What is Solar Energy & How Can It Benefit Us
Solar energy is energy that comes from the sun that is converted into either thermal or electrical energy. Energy from the sun is the cleanest and the most abundant renewable energy source on our planet. Solar energy can be used for a variety of things, including generating electricity, heating water, and creating a comfortable interior atmosphere.
Not only is solar energy renewable and abundant, but it is also very flexible. Your solar technology can be built near its point of use or at a central station, similar to traditional power plants. Both of these methods can also store energy, so when the sun sets, you still have power.
What is Solar Energy?
To be technical, solar radiation is light emitted by the sun. This is also called electromagnetic radiation. Every location on earth receives some sunlight over the year, but the amount in different areas can vary. Solar technologies capture the radiation and turn it into energy that can be used in your home, business, and to power electronics.
The two main types are photovoltaics (PV) and concentrated solar-thermal power (CSP). Photovoltaics is the type of solar power you’re most familiar with because it utilizes solar panels. When the sun shines on the solar panels, the energy is harnessed by the PV cells, and they create electrical charges. This causes electricity to flow and to power whatever is attached to the solar panels.
Concentrated solar-thermal power uses mirrors to reflect and concentrate the sunlight onto receivers. These receivers collect solar energy and convert it into heat. The heat is used to produce electricity, or it is stored for later use. This type of system is usually used in very large power plants, similar to traditional power plants.
5 Benefits of Using Solar Energy
It’s no secret that solar energy is good for the environment, but there are many more reasons why solar energy is so much better than traditional energy sources. Here are five benefits to solar energy:
It’s a renewable energy source. First, solar energy is a renewable energy source. This means that you can never run out of it. Even in places where the sun is only out for a few hours a day, there’s still the potential to harness the sun’s energy and utilize it. Harnessing a day’s worth of solar energy can provide electricity to a city for weeks, and the best part is the sun will always come out tomorrow!
It can reduce electric bills. It may not be possible to switch your entire home or business to solar power, but even using a little bit of solar power will reduce your energy bill. The amount you save on your energy bill will be dependent on the size of your solar energy system. There is also the potential to receive payment for the surplus energy if you generate more electricity than you use.
It reduces air pollution and water usage. Fossil fuels create a lot of pollutants, and these pollutants are bad for the environment, our health, and aesthetics. Not only does the smog and dirty air create chronic health problems, but when pollutants get In the air, everything looks bad. If your energy source is an alternative besides fossil fuel, it more than likely uses a lot of water. Hydropower and nuclear energy require lots of water to produce electricity, and they can have a significant impact on the local ecosystem. On the other hand, solar power creates energy without using water and doesn’t add pollutants to the air, either.
It improves human health in the long run. Because solar energy doesn’t add pollutants to the air and also doesn’t use a lot of water, it can improve human health in the long run. This improvement can be on an individual and a global scale. With cleaner air comes healthier lungs, and this switch could save lives. Also, being able to eliminate water from the production of electricity can reduce water scarcity.
It helps fight climate change. Finally, solar energy is a great way to help fight climate change. Unfortunately, the continual release of pollutants and additional CO2 in the air hurts our planet. It makes it more difficult for our natural environment to clean the contaminants from the air, and as the carbon count increases, so will the retention of heat from the sun. In other words, if we continue on our current trajectory, our planet will continue experiencing sudden and volatile weather patterns, such as extreme temperatures and unusual natural disasters.
Solar energy is a powerful and cost-effective alternative to using fossil fuels for energy. Because it is harvested from the sun, solar energy is always renewable and because it doesn’t produce any waste to process, it is also considered a clean resource.
Solar energy does have a few disadvantages. The initial installation can be costly, it is weather-dependent, and while it is regarded as a clean resource, it does still emit greenhouse gases. However, the benefits of solar energy outweigh the disadvantages over time. Not only can you lower energy bills by utilizing solar power, but you can also earn money if your energy usage is lower than the amount of energy your solar power produces.
Beyond being able to reduce energy costs, solar energy has plenty of other benefits, including fighting climate change, improving human health, and reducing air pollutants. Even small shifts to solar power can have a profound effect on local ecosystems by improving the air quality and reducing water scarcity. With all these amazing benefits, solar power is the energy source of the future.