In today’s world, non-renewable resources including oil, gas and coal are being consumed at an increasingly alarming rate. The world can no longer exploit these resources at this rate and expect the planet to replenish itself. However, there are other alternatives available, that we can utilize, including solar, wind and geothermal energy.
Many countries have started to utilize solar energy, but their challenge is producing enough of it to meet their demands.
What is Solar Energy?
Solar energy refers to that energy that is produced from the sun. The sun has been producing energy for billions of years and is the most important source of energy required to support life forms. The advantage is that the sun is a renewable resource, unlike fossil fuels. Solar energy technology harnesses the power of the sun to produce energy for lighting, heating air and water and generating electricity.
The main advantage of solar energy is that it’s clean. In fact it’s one of the cleanest sources of energy we have.It’s very low maintenance, relatively easy to install and best of all, it’s renewable. But it is not completely without limitations. Solar energy is dependent on the amount of sunlight available, location, time of day and time of year, as well as varying weather conditions.
Solar energy systems can require a substantial investment. Which is one of the primary reasons why it is not being used on a large scale. But there is reason for optimism. Corporations like Shell have predicted that 50% of the world’s energy will come from renewable sources by 2040. And in recent years, manufacturing costs for photovoltaic cells has dropped by 3-5% per year and government subsidies for solar projects have increased. Trends show that it is possible that in the next few years millions of households in the world may be using solar energy. Aggressive financial incentives in Germany and Japan have made these countries already global leaders in the deployment of solar energy.
Interesting facts about Solar Energy
Below are some basic, but very interesting facts, to help explain the importance and power of solar energy.
Solar energy is abundant and relatively easy to access, from practically anywhere on the planet. Considering the sun is 90 million miles from our planet, it only takes less than 10 minutes for light to travel from that distance.
Solar energy has more than one use. By means of photosynthesis, solar energy is converted by green plants into chemical energy which in turn produces the biomass that makes up fossil fuels.
Solar powered hot water heating systems utilize solar energy to heat water. In certain areas, 60 – 70% of water used domestically for temperatures as high as 60 degrees Celsius (140 F) can be produced by solar heating.
Solar energy can be used for making potable, brackish or saline water. Without the use of electricity and chemicals, waste water can be treated. Creating sea salt from sea water is also one of the oldest uses of solar energy.
Solar energy is being recognized as the future of alternative energy as it is helps combat the greenhouse gas effect on global climate change, generated by fossil fuels. It is non-polluting and has no known negative effects on the environment.
Space missions launched from a number of nations have all used solar energy to power various types of space craft.
The earth receives approximately 1,366 watts of direct solar radiation per square meter.
Solar panels are virtually maintenance free as their batteries require no water or regular service, and they can last for years. Once solar panels are installed, there are no recurring costs.
Solar power is quiet. There are no moving parts and there is no additional fuel required to produce power.
Clouds and pollution prevent the sun’s rays from reaching earth, which limits the effectiveness of solar power.
Solar energy is measured by the kilo-watt hour. 1 kilowatt = 1,000 watts.
Solar power can significantly lower your electricity bills. Many government agencies now offer tax incentives and rebate programs to motivate people to choose solar power alternatives. Save money and reduce your carbon footprint.