Understand the workings of solar power and understand how it can help us by coming in use in various energy generating applications.
Where do we get solar power from and how does it work?
The popularity of solar power seems undiminished even after decades of its discovery. It was what everybody was raving about in the 70’s. The popular frenzy over solar power continued well into the 80’s too. What is surprising to note is that solar power is still enjoying tremendous popularity even today. So what makes solar power such a ‘hot’ idea (no pun intended) even after all these years? The first, and clearly the most important reason, is economy. If you’ve ever wondered if there is such a thing as free energy, well, solar power is the closest you can get. The sun is a massive storehouse of abundant energy. Solar energy is virtually limitless. For millions of years, solar energy has supported life on earth. And now, thanks to modern science and technology, the same energy will help keep our homes warm and bright, especially during those cold winter days. This is the time when alternative is going mainstream. At least, in the field of energy generation and commercial power production. The need of the hour is to produce abundant quantity of ‘green’, renewable and low-cost energy in order to stop putting excessive strain on or natural resources.
How can solar power help us?
The sun is the ultimate source of energy for the planet. The sun is a gigantic storehouse of unfathomable energy and has countless benefits, some obvious and some that are less apparent. In fact, mankind has always been benefited by the sun in many ways from the earliest of times and is continuing to receive its goodness every day even now. No other source of power save solar energy offers so much goodness without causing any harm to us or the environment that we live in. Thanks to modern science and technology, we now have many sophisticated and ingenious means of capturing solar energy for use in various applications. Devices like photovoltaic cells are implemented for converting solar power into electricity. Other modern equipment that get their power from the sun include solar chimney, solar cells, solar water heaters, solar thermal devices and so on. All these devices use solar radiation for their operation and offer a degree of economy and convenience that is simply unmatched. However, the actual performance of these applications may vary greatly depending on a number of incumbent factors.
Broadly speaking, solar technology can be categorized into two main types – active and passive. This classification is based on the way solar radiation is captured, and converted into the desired form of energy and distributed. The various solar devices mentioned above fall under the active solar technology category as they involve the direct conversion of solar radiation into the required form of energy. Passive solar technologies on the other hand, cover all those materials that have favorable thermal properties and involve designing buildings and spaces with prime and proper air circulation and ample exposure to sunlight. Be it active or passive, both the forms of solar technologies serve the purpose of increasing solar power conservation. Active solar technologies encourage the production of solar energy while passive solar technologies lessen our dependence on non-solar power. No other means of generating power save solar power helps us so much in preserving and protecting our environment. This is achieved by virtue of the clean and ‘green’ nature of solar energy.
Finding out the areas where solar power is used
Using solar panels is one of the best alternative means of getting energy that we need on a daily basis. Today, solar power is used in a most diverse range of applications and is used far and wide by the entire world. The list of the many uses of solar power starts with the contribution of solar energy in architecture and urban planning that emphasize features like orientating buildings towards the sun, adopting selective shading, compacting proportion and so on. All these factors, when carefully matched with the corresponding climate and environment of a particular area, can lead to the development of well-lit spaces.
The list of solar applications continues with its use in agriculture. The power of the sun has along been used by farmers everywhere to optimize and improve the productivity of crops. Techniques like fruit walls and sloping walls have been practiced to enhance solar energy collection and improve crop yields. Other applications of solar power in agriculture include powering water pumps, drying crops, and more. Greenhouse is another technology applied for the specialty crops that are not really suited to the local climatic conditions and require year-round heat to reap well. Yet another significant role of solar power is in the domestic field including technologies like daylighting, solar thermals, water-heaters and cooking. Photovoltaic cells and solar panels are implemented to convert sunlight into electricity. The list thus goes on with numerous applications of solar energy in our daily lives as well as specialized fields like chemistry labs where sunlight is converted into chemical energy. Some rare chemical reactions require solar energy to be triggered. Such reactions can be broadly divided into thermo-chemical and photo-chemical reactions depending upon how solar energy is used in the process. Finally, there’s the big economical advantage of using solar energy which is probably the cheapest source of energy!
Installing a solar energy panel at home is one of the best decisions you will ever take. Not only will you be happy to watch your energy costs go down radically, but will also be glad to know that you are doing your bit for the environment, and ensuring a greener tomorrow for your children. The best thing about solar technology is that it can be realized with even the simplest of means. Building your very own solar system (and thereby bypassing the usual high expenses of a commercially available installation) is very much possible. A step-by-step guide, which clearly walks you through all the necessary steps, can prove to be really useful in this regard, especially if you are new to solar energy.
Originally posted 2009-09-23 04:30:36.