7 Things You Should Know About Solar Energy
These 7 pieces of info will get your solar knowledge base off to a good start.
1. Converting Solar Energy to Solar Power
The two main methods for transforming solar energy into usable solar power are:
- Direct or photovoltaic (PV) cells – These convert the sun’s energy (sunlight) through solar panels to use it for electricity.
- Indirect or solar thermal – Converting the sun’s energy through solar thermal collectors to generate power for heating.
2. Solar Energy Is Renewable
Unlike other commonly used power sources such as coal and oil, solar power is renewable i.e. it isn’t a finite resource, and it’s availability will continue for the forseeable future. Our coal and oil reserves will diminish, and we cannot replace them, additionally, the distribution costs for coal and oil are high (and result in even more energy depletion). Unlike these finite sources of energy, solar power is readily available in all parts of the world (for at least part of the year), therefore can be used anywhere in the world as long as the technology is available.
3. Solar Energy Is Abundant
The sun generates energy in such large volumes that it is very difficult for our minds to fathom. For a comprehensive view of the technical details you can check the Wikipedia page on Sunlight and the Solar Constant. In simple terms though, if we could harness the power from the amount of sunlight the Earth receives in one hour, it would be sufficient to supply energy to the whole world for one year! This stat alone should be enough incentive for anyone to at least look into investing in technology for utilising renewable energy.
4. No (or low) Carbon Footprint
One of the advantages of solar energy is no (or low) carbon dioxide or other emissions to affect the atmosphere. There are some emissions associated with the manufacture and installation of solar panels but they are extremely low compared to processes used in other areas of the energy sector.
5. Solar Energy Is Safe to Produce
The production and extraction of oil, coal, and gas are associated with risks of explosions, fire, chemical leaks and mines collapsing. Another example is nuclear energy, of which the dangers are well documented. These hazards do not affect the solar energy sector. Solar panels are made from silicon, free of toxins and the other hazardous materials that can be harmful to both peoples health and the environment, making solar energy a very safe source of power.
6. Solar Energy Is available worldwide
There’s a strong chance you’re reading this guide on your laptop, tablet or smartphone, which you can easily charge in a nearby powerpoint. Even if you’re in a car, on a train, or on a flight, you probably have access to a power outlet or charging device. With the ready availability of electricity in developed countries like Australia, it’s difficult to fathom that an estimated one billion plus people do not have access to electricity. In all, 86 percent of people without electricity live in rural areas. Nearly half of these are in rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, and nearly a third are rural dwellers in South Asia. According to the World Bank Data Blog, installing the necessary infrastructure for the supply of electricity in these locations poses significant logistical issues.
Solar power is especially suitable for remote areas which do not have access to an energy grid. If self-contained solar systems could be installed in those regions, it would improve the lives of all those people. With access to electricity, local industries could develop, provide more employment, and increase the standard of living.
7. Low Maintenance and Running Costs
The maintenance needs of solar panels are very small. This is because there are no moving parts, which means little wear and tear occurs in normal usage, in fact, solar panels and solar thermal systems can last for up to 35 years. There are no running costs for solar energy production. After solar panels are installed, the generation of power is free, for the life of the system.