What Is Solar Energy?
Solar energy is the energy we get from the sun. The sun has been producing energy for billions of years. It is a completely free, renewable source and now it can be harnessed. Solar energy technologies use the energy of the sun to light homes, heat water and generate electricity.
One of the main benefits of solar energy is that it is environmentally friendly and is one of the cleaner energy sources. It is a renewable source of energy, associated with very little maintenance and easy installation.
One if its limitations is the fact that solar technologies can not be used during the night, and that the amount of heat or electricity they generate depends on the location, time of the day and the weather changes.
Below we present 7 Facts about this increasingly popular energy source.
Fact 1: Solar Energy Is an Abundant Energy Source.
The sun is the most abundant source of energy available on Earth. The sunlight we receive for just an hour is enough to generate energy for one year for the whole world. Although the Earth receives around 173 petawatts of energy continuously, we are able to harness merely 0.0001% of this vast amount. The solar energy we get is around 10,000 times greater than what we actually use on the Earth.
Fact 2: Solar Energy Is Renewable
The energy we get from the sun is renewable, meaning that it occurs naturally and can be replenished over time. Unlike other energy sources, such as coal and oil whose reserves will eventually diminish, the sun is here to stay and so is the energy we can gain from it. Solar energy is an ever- existing resource which can be utilized all around the world, assuming that the proper technology is present in the particular region.
Fact 3: Solar Energy and Solar Power
Solar Energy needs to be transformed to solar power and then it can be used for heating or electricity. There are two main methods to convert solar energy to power.
- Direct or photovoltaic (PV) - The conversion is done through solar panels and the generated power is used for electricity.
- Indirect or solar thermal - The conversion is done through solar thermal collectors and the generated power is used for heating.
Fact 4: Solar Energy Is Safe to Produce
The production and use of solar energy presents very little hazards, if any at all. Risks which are generally associated with other energy sources, like explosion, fire or chemical leaks, are non- existent in this case. PV panels are mainly made from silicon, which means that there is no danger from any leakage of toxins or fumes. This makes solar energy the safest source for the generation of power.
Fact 5: Low Maintenance and Running Costs
Since there are no running parts in the solar panels, there is very little wear and tear. This is why the maintenance requirements for the solar energy systems are very low. Both solar panels and solar thermal can last up to 35 years. On top of the low maintenance, there are no running cost during the production of solar energy. Once the system has been installed, the generation of power is free, for the entire lifespan of the system.
Fact 6 : Reduced Contribution to Global Warming
One of the best things about solar energy is that there are no carbon dioxide or other emissions affecting the atmosphere. There are almost no toxins released in the environment while we use solar energy for meeting our energy needs. The installation and production of the solar systems are associated with some emissions but they are far less significant than the other alternatives in the energy sector.
Fact 7: Solar Energy Is Applicable Everywhere
It is particularly suitable for remote areas which do not have access to an energy grid. There are around one billion people in the world living in areas without access to electricity. Independent solar systems could be installed in those regions and improve the lives of a great amount of people. Moreover, installing solar systems could also have a positive effect on the local employment.
Read more: What are PV panels?