Solar Energy 101
Remember when you were a kid and you would spend the days of your summer vacation learning new uses for a magnifying glass? We would all huddle in a circle with a small pile of leaves or bits of paper and watch as the sun became concentrated through the magnifying lens. Within moments the leaves or paper would begin to smoke and turn brown. Sometimes we might even see a small flame develop. For most of us, this was our first scientific introduction to solar energy.
In its simplest terms, solar energy is energy that comes from the sun. The sun emits radiation which is a form of energy that we are able to harness for our use. We gather and convert this energy through the use of photovoltaic (PV) cells. Several PV cells are lined up and connected to create solar panels. These panels work from the same basic principle as a magnifying glass, concentrating the sun’s radiation and converting it into a form that we can use.
PV cells and solar panels involve a lot more technology, of course, and that technology allows us to concentrate the sun’s energy in a way that is much safer, can be stored for later use, and can be converted into different forms such as electricity or heat.
The most important point to make about the use of solar energy is the fact that it is a source of infinite power. The sun has been around for more than 4 billion years, so it is safe to assume that it won’t be disappearing anytime soon. It is always available and always will be.
Unlike other sources of energy, the sun cannot be exhausted, used up or worn out. No one will ever own the monopoly on it, making it freely available to everyone no matter where they live. It does not have to be harvested or mined, shipped or transported, and it is clean and produces no emissions. Lastly, the sun produces far more energy than we could ever use essentially making the sky an infinite source of power.
Because of the characteristics that make solar energy the most popular source of renewable energy, more and more people are taking advantage of its availability. And as more people use solar energy, the more the costs will decrease, resulting in more people wanting to use it. It’s just the kind of cyclical pattern the world needs right now.
How much has the use of solar energy grown? According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the global generation of solar power increased from less than 50 TWh (terawatt hours) in 2010, to almost 200 TWh in 2014 and is projected to nearly 300 TWh in 2016. That is an increase of 600% over a span of just 6 years.
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If you are interested in finding out more about residential solar panel systems, please visit our website for a list of Frequently Asked Questions. If you have any other questions, please feel free to Contact Us and we will answer all your questions.