People have been harnessing and using Solar Energy in some way for hundreds of years. The technology has advanced considerably in more recent years due to the need to go green, protect our planet, and use cleaner, renewable energy sources. It has also gained incredible popularity on the private market for peoples homes and office buildings because of its sustainability, renewability, and the cost it cuts on energy bills.
What is Solar Energy?
Solar energy is the radiant energy given off by the sun. That energy is both heat and light, and accounts for the majority of the renewable energy available to us today (wind and wave power also being renewable energy sources). Our planet is hit by about 174 petawatts of solar radiation at the upper atmosphere (that’s 174 million gigawatts, or about 174,000,000,000,000,000 watts), that’s a lot of energy! About 25% of that energy is reflected back up by clouds and the surface of our planet, and another 25% is absorbed by water vapor and clouds. The remaining 50% makes it to the ground and gets absorbed into the planet. It’s this 50% that we can harness and use to power our planet.
Technology has allowed us to capture this energy and use it, and because the sun is always giving off energy, we have an unlimited amount available to us. Solar Panels are used to capture the energy from the Sun rays. The electrical current is then transferred to a charge controller, which can then convert it to either AC power or DC power. The solar panels are made of a silicon-based crystal material that, when hit with light, produce an electric current. We can then use that electric current to power whatever we need.
To date, we have only been able to harness about 5% of the energy we get from the sun. The potential to have enough energy to power our entire planet is there, and technologies are advancing that will allow us to do this.
Benefits of Solar Energy:
- Solar Energy is renewable. We will never run out of sunlight, the sun is a consistent power source.
- Environmentally friendly. With no greenhouse gas emissions, solar energy is clean and will not harm our planet.
- Cheaper than power company. There is going to be a “start-up” fee to get the panels or other technology installed. Once it is, the energy you get is free. The equipment that you will need to buy, will very quickly pay for itself. And, with technologies advancing, solar panels are getting cheaper and cheaper so just about anyone can get them and utilize this great energy.
- You can be completely self-sufficient. That’s right, you are not required to connect to the power grid. You can live completely self-sufficient and never have to pay another energy bill.
- Sell your excess energy. If you have a large enough solar panel system, you could literally make your electric meter spin backwards. Many power companies would be happy to purchase or credit you for the excess energy you have.
- Tax credits. Our government and other agencies offer tax credits and other incentive programs for people purchasing solar energy systems. With rebates, You could save sometimes 20-30% of the systems cost.