Solar Energy: Uses, Pros And Cons, Comparison to Wind Energy
What is Solar Energy?
The increasing price of traditional fuel has resulted in people turning to renewable energy sources. Of all the available alternatives, solar energy is the fastest-growing source primarily because it is readily available and requires minimum effort to capture. The primary reasons for using solar energy in homes are to generate electricity and heat water.
In simple words, solar energy is the power derived from the sun. People use it directly to light their house, cook food, or convert it into electricity through electric solar panels. Today people have increased solar energy usage to cut the cost of commercial electric bills.
How Solar Energy Generates power?
We get solar energy from the sunlight, captured and utilised by the PV cell present in the solar panels. Most solar panels use pure silicon as the base, further cut into square-shaped cells. Solar panels generate electricity when the photons present in the sunlight collide with the silicon. These collisions cause electrons to break free which forms an electric current that moves freely through the attached wires.
The solar photovoltaic system works to simplify all the complicated solar electric power generation steps. It is a non-mechanical device that easily captures and converts sunlight into electricity.
Common Examples of Solar Energy System
Solar energy is a great renewable energy source, and many people benefit from it. Moreover, increasing efficiency adds to its growth for domestic and business purposes. Some examples of energy solar systems are:
- Solar Panels Usage: Solar panels efficiently generate electricity by capturing sunlight. That electricity can be used from powering a small calculator to an entire business. The solar photovoltaic energy device or cell has semiconductor materials that produce electricity. When numerous energy solar panels are interconnected, they make vast units of electricity to meet the demands of people.
- Thermal Heating: Solar energy solutions use either active or passive heating systems for homes. It excludes the need to install solar panels. In the active system, pumped water is allowed to move, which generates heat. In the passive method, natural water circulation takes the lead in increasing the temperature.
- Solar Technology: Solar power energy also facilitates the charging of electronic products. The solar power chargers facilitate the charging of tablets and cellphones. Moreover, solar-powered flashlights also use sunlight to store energy.
- Rooftop solar panels: The rooftop solar panels play a crucial role in reducing carbon emissions and electricity bills. These are the most efficient methods of utilising technological advancement to keep domestic finances under check.
Advantages of Investing in Solar Energy
There are various advantages of solar power generating systems. Apart from abundant availability, solar energy offers an eco-friendly way of power generation. Here are some benefits of using solar energy production:
- Solar energy is a renewable energy source, unlike oil and coal which are non-renewable, finite sources of energy. Solar energy will be available to people until the sun shines in the sky.
- Solar energy can be used to produce electricity with zero carbon dioxide emissions. This helps in keeping the environment clean and healthy.
- Solar cells use the sunlight to produce electricity to meet domestic needs. This provides an excellent way of cutting down on the monthly expenses.
- Installing a rooftop solar panel increases the value of a house. This is specifically crucial in areas where environmental degradation is considered seriously by the governing authorities.
- Solar power generation systems require an upfront investment, but their degradation rate and maintenance cost are negligible. This investment is recovered from electricity bill savings in 4 to 5 years, and the solar panels continue to produce free electricity for 25 years.
- Places with zero access to power cables can get electricity from solar energy. It offers a huge benefit to such remote areas to carry out simple tasks that would be impossible without power.
Disadvantages of Using Solar Energy
Solar energy production is beneficial to the people and environment in numerous ways. However, there are some disadvantages associated with it. These include the following:
- To generate solar energy, it is crucial to get abundant sunlight. This situation ceases to exist in cloudy and foggy weather. Because of this reason, people living in areas that receive very little sunlight cannot yet entirely depend on solar power to meet their energy requirements. Hence, they need to retain the electricity supply from the grid.
- A large-capacity commercial solar power plant would naturally consume a vast area (in acres). Such a vast piece of land could have been used for agriculture or other purposes.
However, domestic solar PV panels are conveniently installed on rooftops or other small establishments. An individual house with a monthly electricity bill of about Rs. 2000 requires only 200 sq ft of shadow-free roof area to install solar panels.
- Materials used to manufacture solar panel energy converters have limited availability. Moreover, some electronic materials of the solar panels have harmful effects on nature.
Residential Solar systems have gained popularity because they can be installed on rooftops even if the area is densely populated. With advanced technology in the solar energy harvesting system, there is more scope for developing this renewable energy source.
Although the solar energy conversion system requires an upfront investment, it is recovered in 4 to 5 years and customers can enjoy the benefits of free electricity generation for 25 years.
Q. Do solar panels generate power when the weather is cloudy?
Solar panels only generate electricity when they get sunlight exposure. Therefore, a solar energy system will generate reduced power when it receives sunlight in cloudy weather.
Q. Can snowfall damage the solar panels?
Snow is too light to cause structural damage to the solar energy system panel. Moreover, the tilted placement of the solar panels results in easy sliding of the snow.
Q. Which type of roof is ideal for installing solar panels?
Roofs facing southward with no shade or sunblock are ideal for installing rooftop solar panels. With this position, panels will get enough sunlight throughout the day to generate adequate units of electricity.