solar energy refers to forms of energy emitted by the sun, including light, radio waves, and x-rays. Accounting for 99.8 percent of the mass in our solar system, the sun is a self-sustaining nuclear fusion reaction by which hydrogen is converted to helium. Every second, the sun converts over 4 million metric tons of matter into solar energy. This matter is converted and released from the sun in the form of radiation waves that travel through the void of space and eventually reach earth. The radiant energy that eventually reaches the earth's surface is estimated around 1,000 watts per sq. m. The sun is similar to a fusion reactor that emits 3,800 million, million, million, million watts of energy each second, which is 20,000 times the energy requirement of the world.
Solar power, as an alternative fuel, involves transforming some of the sun's massive thermal energy into electricity. Individuals driven by environmental and other concerns encourage the implementation of policies that require the use of solar and other renewable energies. Solar energy can be broadly classified in two categories on the basis of its use: active and passive.
active solar energy
Active solar energy can be converted to electricity and used directly, as in the case of solar heating applications and solar photovoltaic (PV) applications. In a PV cell, sunlight strikes a layer of semiconductors, which in turn creates an electrical cur rent. By 2005, this proven technology was being used to provide heat and power to well over 650,000 homes, primarily in the United States, Germany, and Japan. Electricity can be produced from solar power by placing solar panels on roofs. These panels consist of PV cells that can convert sunlight directly into electricity. Moreover, electricity produced as solar power during the day may be stored in batteries for use at night.
Another method of electric generation employs the use of turbines. In turbines, the sun's heat can be used to convert water into steam and then this steam is used to run turbines. The turbines, in turn, run generators, which produce electricity. Solar PV applications have found many uses in rural areas for multiple activities besides home lighting. Remote villages deprived of grid power can be easily powered using solar photovoltaic technology. The economics of rural electrification can be attractive considering the high cost of power transmission and erratic power supply in rural areas. From portable indoor uses such as calculators, to generating plants alongside railways and roads, PVs are adaptable. They easily function across most areas in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
Was this article helpful?
Global warming is a huge problem which will significantly affect every country in the world. Many people all over the world are trying to do whatever they can to help combat the effects of global warming. One of the ways that people can fight global warming is to reduce their dependence on non-renewable energy sources like oil and petroleum based products.