Have you ever wondered why the world should even consider or look for an alternative source of energy when mankind has relied on the power of fossil fuels for many centuries, the ones used to produce gas, coal, and oil which powers homes, factories, and cars? These fuels cater to the needs of most of the world’s energy consumption. What is the big deal here, then?
Studies revealed that there are some negative consequences which result from burning fossil fuels. When fossil fuels are burned, they release extra carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, with an increase of 25% for the past 150 years. It then destabilizes the already delicate balance. This then leads to changes in the temperature of the planet.
The said changes affect climate patterns and sea levels, wreaking havoc on ecosystems and economies all over the world. The rest of the gases produced when fossil fuels are burned combined with other chemicals in the atmosphere, which result to dangerous side effects like smog and acid rain that can damage the human body, infrastructure, and the environment as a whole.
Aside from these harmful side effects, these fossil fuels are also nonrenewable resource. Produced by the decomposition of the animal remains from years ago, these fossil fuels are being mined in increasing amounts from the earth, and it is expected that the demand will exceed the supply sooner than later. Millions of years have to pass before decomposing animal and plant life can replenish the quantity of fossil fuels being mined right now.
For this reason, the need for alternative energy sources has skyrocketed, and one option is none other than solar energy.
A Glimpse into the Different Energy Resources of the World
Even if you pretend that every energy resource is made equal, it is easy to see why the sun is deemed as an attractive option. However, many people are still not aware of how these resources really work, or what these resources are in the first place.
There are basically two basic forms of energy resources, namely renewable and finite. The names themselves are self-explanatory. When you speak of finite resources, these are materials found in the earth which come in limited quantities.
Since they are limited, it means that they will soon be gone. The finite resources include natural gas, petroleum, uranium, and coal, the common energy mainstays. On the other hand, renewable resources are constantly produced and will not deplete in quantities. Renewable resources include geothermal, hydro, wind, biomass, and solar, all of which are up and coming sources of energy.
The processes used for getting the finite resources out of earth and into homes, businesses, and industries are complex. However, the main gist is that the materials are extracted from the ground either through drilling or mining before they go through the refining process. Once the materials are refined, these are then burned to boil water and produce steam. This steam will spin turbines, and electricity will be generated as the result.
Renewable resources are incessantly produced but each of them is somewhat unique and one of a kind:
This is the organic material that is harvested from animal fats, waste, or plants which are converted or burned directly into biogas or liquid biofuels. Burning biofuel or biomass boils water to produce steam that will turn turbines and produce electricity, similar to finite fossil fuels. Ethanol and wood are considered as the most common biofuels used in many parts of the world.
This type of energy comes from hot water under the surface of the earth. Magma heats up the water, and this is directly pumped to the nearby houses for heat or to power plants to produce electricity.
It doesn’t involve any steam power yet it still makes use of turbines. The wind is used for turning huge windmills that will spin a generator to produce electricity. You have probably randomly seen these windmills in rural areas during your road trips.
This works similarly to wind power wherein a natural force using water will turn turbines and produce electricity. This hydropower includes tidal power and waves and OTEC or Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion. OTEC makes use of differences in temperature between the colder deep ocean water and warm ocean surface waters for powering a turbine using vapor.
The last, but definitely not the least, is solar energy. Solar follows the heat to boil to steam pattern for electricity production. This is known as thermosolar. It is a form of solar which involves solar panels although they work like mirrors, with sunlight directed to concentrated spot to heat water.
There are solar thermal systems that make use of the sun for heating water being used in homes or factories. However, the most common type of solar power being used for powering houses and buildings is PV or photovoltaic solar. Solar panels gather sunlight which is converted to energy used for appliances.
Harnessing the Sun’s Power
With the ever increasing concerns regarding the availability and consequences of burning fossil fuels to produce energy, more and more homeowners are turning their attention to the sun as a potential source of power. Alternative energy companies make use of different kinds of solar energy systems, namely passive and active solar energy systems. The active solar systems like photovoltaic systems make use of mechanical means for collection and storage of power.
Photovoltaic systems use the electrons’ movement which reaches an excited state once struck by the rays of the sun. The movement of the electrons transform into energy. Many photovoltaic systems utilize silicon panels for catching the rays of the sun during daytime, storing them for later use once the sun sets. For the longest time, solar powered calculators have used the power of the photovoltaic systems for their operation.
Solar Energy Defined
Solar energy is produced by the light of the sun or photovoltaic energy, as well as its warmth, or solar thermal, in order to generate electricity or produce heat. Renewable and inexhaustible, solar energy is obtained through the use of mirrors and panels.
Photovoltaic solar cells basically convert sunlight directly to the electricity through photovoltaic effect in which particular materials can absorb photons or light particles and liberate electrons, which generates an electric current. On contrary, solar thermal collector uses panels and mirrors to absorb and focus the sun’s heat, which transfers it to the fluid and conduct it through the pipes for it to be used in installations and buildings. It is also used for solar thermoelectric or electricity production.
Know the Amazing Benefits You Can Get from Solar Energy
The solar energy’s potential is actually beyond imagination. The earth’s surface gets 120,000 terawatts of sunlight or solar radiation, which is 20000 times more power than what’s required to supply the whole world.
There is no doubt that solar energy is another renewable energy source, which means that you can’t run out of this kind of energy in comparison to some non-renewable energy sources including nuclear, coal, and fossil fuels. Everyone will get an access to solar energy for as long as they want to and while the sun’s alive. According to NASA, the sun will continue to supply solar energy for 6.5 billion years. Unfortunately, there is something that you should worry about and that is the fact that scientists estimated that the sun will swallow the planet Earth five billion years from now.
Environmentally Friendly –
Generally, harnessing solar energy doesn’t cause pollution. But, there are associated emissions with the installation, transportation, and manufacturing of the solar power systems. These are almost nothing in comparison to majority of conventional sources of energy. It’s an essential step to deal with the climate crisis
Since solar energy is a renewable and an abundant source of energy, it means that it’s also sustainable. Sources of sustainable energy meet the requirements of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their unique needs. In other terms, solar energy is actually sustainable for the reason that there’s no possible way people can over-consume it.
Lessens Electricity Costs –
– Because of the existence of FIT or feed-in tariff and net metering schemes, homeowners may now sell their excess electricity or acquire some bill credits during the times when they produce more electricity in comparison to what they consume. It also means that homeowners may lessen their overall electricity expenses through going solar.
The data from One Block Off the Grid shows that adding some solar panels in your home may bring in more savings every month. In fact, residents in Hawaii have saved about $64,000 after two decades.
Today, majority of homeowners select power purchase or leasing agreements to finance their solar panels. With this, it reduces or completely gets rid of the upfront costs of installing solar panel systems and enables homeowners to start enjoying savings right from the 1st day. If you like to learn more regarding the benefits specifically related to the residential solar panels, which generate electricity through solar energy at home.
Good Availability –
– You can get solar energy wherever you are located. Not only countries closest to Equator can take advantage of what solar energy has to offer. For instance, in Germany, it has the highest possible capacity of solar power across the globe.
Lots of Applications –
– Solar energy may be used for numerous purposes. It may also be used for generating electricity in the places that lack grid connections for distilling water in the continent of Africa or even for powering satellites in space. Another term for solar power is The People’s Power that refers to how quickly deployable solar panels are at consumer levels both solar thermal and photovoltaic.
Because of the introduction of the flexible thin-film solar cells, this renewable source of energy can be integrated into the building materials. For instance, Sharp takes pride from being a solar panel manufacturer in Japan that introduced the transparent solar power windows recently.
Basically, there aren’t any moving parts involved in majority of solar power applications. There’s no associated noise with photovoltaics and it’s one of the amazing benefits you can enjoy compared from the other green technology like wind turbines.
Shared Solar –
Due to shading, ownership issues and insufficient space, 1/5 of American homes are unfit for the solar panels. Through introducing shared solar, every homeowner may subscribe to the community solar gardens as well as generate solar power without having solar panels on their rooftops.
Solar Technology Continues to Improve –
Technological advancements are being made constantly in the industry of solar power. The innovations in quantum physics and nanotechnology can triple the electrical output of the solar panels.
Low Maintenance –
– Most of the solar power systems today do not require lots of maintenance. Usually, the residential solar panels only need cleaning a few times every year. Serious solar manufacturers basically ship twenty or twenty-five year warranties with their own solar panels.
Government or State Offers Financial Support for Those Who Will Use Solar Power Systems –
State and government rebates have become widely available both for most homeowners and on utility-scale. It just means that the effective cost of the solar panels is less than what they have to be. In several cases, the cost of residential photovoltaic system may be reduced more than fifty percent.
As of year 2008, US government provides a thirty percent tax credits without upper limit. Odds are, your home can also be eligible for some rebates and grants.
With the spectacular benefits of solar energy, it is not surprising why many dubbed it as the next big source of alternative energy. A lot of people have enjoyed the countless advantages that solar energy offers. If you want to be one of those who want to reap the perks of solar energy, why not start looking for the best solar power system and install it at the soonest time possible?