Solar Energy – Types & Advantages

Solar energy, the most abundant free energy of the World, is now being exploited very widely. As the whole World is crying about energy depletion, the ever existing energy in front of us is Solar Energy. Let us see what solar energy is, its types, and advantages of it.

Solar energy is the energy from the sun. This is one of the most important source of energy for all the life forms on earth and the solar system. Keeping the distance in mind between the sun and the earth, only a small fraction of the heat reaches the earth. But as per the study, this fraction is more than essential to power up for the entire earth. The energy from the sun is converted into different forms. Plants convert the energy from the sunlight into chemical energy and the process is commonly known as photosynthesis. Humans use it for various purposes like heating, cooking, burning, generating electricity and so on. Animals use solar energy for various purposes. Marine animals survive by using the sunlight and energy absorbed by the water they live in. likewise all living things need sunlight and its energy to sustain a healthy living. Solar energy is a freely obtained and a renewable source of energy. It comes under the category of inexhaustible unlike other forms of energy like fossil fuel, oil and coal. Since solar energy does not emit any green house gas, it is considered non polluting.

TYPES OF SOLAR ENERGY

The two types of solar energy are photovoltaic technology and solar thermal technology. The explanations are as under:

  • Photovoltaic technology : the term photovoltaic means generating electricity from the sun. This term is derived from two terms namely photo which means light in Greek and voltaic which means voltage. This solar photovoltaic technology produces electricity directly from sunlight. This technology has cells in them which the sunlight detaches the electrons and atoms. This is one of the commonly used techniques in solar cells that convert energy from the sun into electrons by photovoltaic effect. These solar cells convert sunlight directly into electricity. This can be used to charge batteries and equipment.  The solar cells in these panels are well equipped for this task. Using the above mentioned techniques, no green house gases are emitted and so this comes under the category of clean energy technology. This technique is feasible as it uses one of the most renewable source of energy on planet earth- the sun. The capacity of photovoltaic technology is measured in watts peak- “Wp”. The PV technique is commonly used in the modern world and it growth is steady as compared to the use of other forms of energy. It is energy efficient and cost effective.
    Solar Panel pic
  • Solar thermal technology : solar thermal technology is a system is a type of system in which sunlight is collected, accumulated and concentrated to a particular area to generate electricity. In this process heat energy is produced due to concentration of sunlight and then electricity is generated. Majority of the solar thermal systems have two main components: (a) reflectors- that capture or absorb the sunlight and (b) receiver- that concentrate or focus the sunlight. Tracking systems are installed so that even if the sun changes its position, its energy can be made to focus to the reflectors. It also has a thermal energy storage system. These storage systems helps to store the excess sunlight energy absorbed so that it can be reused during cloudy days and evenings. The three types of solar thermal plants are linear concentrating systems, solar power towers and solar dish systems. In linear concentrating systems, the suns energy is captured using long curved u-shaped mirrors that concentrate sunlight to the receivers.  In solar power towers, flat sun tracking mirrors called heliostats are used as reflectors in large acres of land and large fields. More and more sunlight can be captured in this process. In solar dish systems, mirrors are kept in dish shaped like satellite dish that capture and concentrate sunlight to the receivers. Some of the advantages of solar thermal technology are that it can be used to provide hot water to the whole building, generating electricity in a cheaper way, heating of building through solar heating and cooling of buildings through solar cooling.
    Solar Water heater picture
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 ADVANTAGES OF USING SOLAR ENERGY

  • Renewable source of energy : one of the most important advantages of solar energy is that it is one of the renewable source of energy. Its availability is worldwide. As long as there is sun, solar energy is accessible.
  • Generate electricity : solar energy can be used to generate electricity in a cheaper. Since the raw material used is free and cheaply available, electricity can be produced at a lower cost. This eventually reduces the electric bills that are being paid by the society.
  • Maintenance cost is low : these solar energy systems usually have low maintenance cost as compared to other forms of energy.  The solar panels needed for the absorption of sunlight are quiet cost effective and needs very little maintenance. The installations of solar panels are comparatively easier without much wires and cables.
  • Eco friendly : the use of solar energy is a sure shot remedy to reduce pollution to a great extent. The use of solar energy does not emit any greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, sulphur oxide or nitrogen oxide, which invariably protects the ozone layer. Thus this renewable source of energy is a non-polluting, clean and reliable.
  • Can be set up anywhere : this is one of the main advantages of solar energy is that it can be setup anywhere. The only criteria for setting up of solar panels are that there should be enough sunlight. So these solar panel can be set up in houses, buildings, offices, rural and urban areas and even deserts where sunlight and its heat is maximum.
  • Government incentives : government is providing incentives for the setting up of solar plants considering its advantages. It easily, cheaply, abundantly available and it is a clean energy source.
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To conclude, the use of solar energy should be promoted worldwide considering its benefits. More incentives should be given by the government to attract people to use solar energy and setup panels in every household. The wise use of this resource evades a lot of environment issues. Overall solar power is an excellent alternative resource as compared to fossil fuels and other forms of energy. Technology should be developed in such a way as to more solar energy or power should be utilized for daily requirements like solar cars, solar escalators, solar trains and scooters. This will decrease the use oil and petroleum which is a nonrenewable resource. More studies and experiments should be conducted to make solar power cheaper and readily usable. This in turn increases the availability. Thus, solar energy has immense power and a renewable resource.