Solar energy is one of the more flexible forms of energy. It is a renewable source of energy where the sun’s thermal energy is used to produce electrical energy. During the last decade, the solar industry in the United States has grown at an average rate of 42% each year. Currently, solar energy production in the US stands at 114 gigawatts. Source
With solar energy gaining popularity each day, the rising question among the public is what is Solar Energy? How does Solar Energy work? In this blog, I will answer these in the simplest terms and discuss why getting a solar panel system might be a good idea for your home or business.
What is Solar Energy?
Solar energy is the cleanest and most environmentally friendly source of electrical energy. So, what do we really mean by Solar energy? When the sunlight reaches Earth’s surface, each of the light particles called photons is packed with energy. We harness that energy from light particles and convert them into usable energy using photovoltaic panels or solar thermal collectors.
With sunlight being abundantly available throughout the US, especially in the Midwest states, investing in a solar energy system might be a good idea for you in the long term. Besides, the cost of installing solar energy systems is lowered along with various tax rebates being offered.
How does Solar Energy Work?
By now we understand that the sun’s energy is converted to usable energy, and this can be done in three different ways. Let us see how:
1. Photovoltaic panels
This is the most common way for home and business owners to take advantage of solar energy. Photovoltaic (PV) panels are light-absorbing panels typically made with silicon. Using the photovoltaic panel system, sunlight is converted into electricity and can be used to power your home and office.
PV panels convert sunlight energy into electricity via a system called the photovoltaic effect. When sunlight strikes the silicon panels they knock the electrons loose, setting them in motion and generating an electric current which is collected by wiring. This current produced is Direct Current (DC) and is converted to Alternating Current (AC) using an inverter and supplied throughout our homes.
Using solar energy will reduce your electric bill and reduce your dependency on fossil fuels.
2. Concentrating Solar Power (CSP)
Concentrating solar power (CSP) systems are used to concentrate the sun’s thermal energy using reflective objects like troughs or mirrors to power traditional steam turbines or engines that create electricity.
This methodology is used in parabolic trough systems where curved mirrors focus the sunlight energy on a receiver. The receiver tubes usually contain synthetic oil which is a high-temperature heat transfer fluid that absorbs the energy and reaches really high temperatures of 750°F or higher. It then goes through a heat exchanger to generate steam. This steam is what drives a conventional steam turbine power system to generate electricity.
Although it is quite expensive to install and maintain a CSP system, it has no carbon dioxide emission, making it a lot kinder to the environment than usual fossil fuels.
3. Solar Heating & Cooling
In Solar heating & cooling (SHC) technology the sun’s energy is accumulated and this heat is used to provide hot water, space heating, cooling, and pool heating for residential, commercial, and industrial applications. This technology is a great alternative for use of electricity or natural gas.
Nowadays, all over the country Americans are manufacturing and installing solar heating and cooling systems that can significantly decrease the reliance on fossil fuels. Most homes in the US can use Solar water heating systems. They comprised three main elements: the solar collector, insulated piping, and a hot water storage tank.
It is also equipped with special parts on request like a freeze protection system for colder climates. The solar collector gathers the heat from sunlight and transfers it to potable water. This heated water flows through the collector to a hot water tank.
So why should you get a solar system for your home?
Nowadays it is quite evident that solar energy is good for the environment. Drastically reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, solar energy can relieve the burden on limited resources and ensure that our planet will remain a healthy habitat.
However, when you decide to install solar energy in your homes, there should be many things you consider. Read here to find out why solar panels are worth it in the USA.
Here, I am jotting down the top advantages of solar energy to help you make the change.
1. No cost for energy production
Other than the thermal energy from the sun, solar energy doesn’t require any supporting materials to produce electricity. Combined with its low maintenance costs your average cost for energy production will be practically zero.
The major investment will be the cost of buying the solar panels and the system installation. However, despite the large initial investment, since no extra costs are added, so the ROI (return on investment) can be acquired quickly.
2. Flexible installation
The installation process can be easy and quite simple. Both vertical and horizontal areas can be used for installation. Another added advantage is that the system can be expanded when the situation calls for it.
However, the best advantage of this is the ability to be installed and provide electricity in remote locations or cabins, where the cost of installing electrical distribution lines is too high or unfeasible.
3. Worthwhile Tax Incentives
Currently, this is the height of solar advantage, qualifying homeowners can get up to 26% of their total initial costs back in a federal tax credit. Besides, that can be combined with local and state tax rebates to also reduce costs. These incentives have provided homeowners with a faster ROI on their solar investment.
It is important to remember that all incentive programs come with expiration dates, so delaying into the future means you could be missing out on lucrative incentives and major reimbursements.
4. Zero Pollution
The production of solar energy doesn’t create any harmful gas or chemical substances that can harm the environment. Besides, this form of electrical production is completely sound-free, which is quite beneficial for loud urban areas.
This system does not produce any waste and has a lifetime that is longer than other energy-production systems. In fact, solar panels are designed to withstand the impact of extreme weather situations.
5. Saves Money
In the long run, solar power is can be a very economical choice. A large part of America is shifting towards the use of solar energy. Although solar panels and installation involve high initial expenditure, this cost can be quickly mitigated by saving on utility bills. In the end, you will notice a profit depending on your use.
With the advancement of technology, solar components have seen a drop in prices, which will translate into more efficient and affordable solar cells.
6. Impact on the Job market
With the rapid expansion of the solar industry, a large job market has opened up related to this. Increasing production of solar panels for domestic and commercial use has become a great source of employment in research, manufacture, sales, and installation.
Read More: What Is Solar Apprentice
Solar energy is sustainable, renewable, and bountiful. As the cost of using solar energy to produce electricity reduces each year, many Americans are switching to solar. According to scientists, sunlight energy is a complete solution to the present energy crisis. Besides solar energy can help to reduce carbon emissions each year.
It is important that we continue to develop solar energy and its technologies that are clean and affordable in order to enjoy long-term benefits. Solar energy can go a very long way in increasing the energy security of our country.
- Solar Energy is an environmentally friendly way to generate electricity.
- It can reduce carbon emissions and reduce dependency on fossil fuels.
- Solar Energy can help reduce your electric bill.
- The cost of Solar panel production and installation is decreasing.
1. Do solar panels work without the sun?
Answer: The latest available solar technology is very sensitive and can generate electricity at low light luminosity without direct sunlight. Read here to know how Solar Lights can charge successfully on cloudy days.
2. How solar energy is produced?
Answer: Solar energy is produced when solar panels absorb the sun’s thermal energy, which is converted into usable electricity. This photovoltaic transformation is the way solar energy is generated.
3. Does solar power create pollution?
Answer: The production of electricity using solar energy does not generate any harmful gas or toxic chemical substances. Besides this system is also sound-free. Hence, it can be pointedly said that solar power does not create pollution.