SOLAR POWER

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Hereís a fast way for you to find out how solar panels work

What is solar power ?

Solar energy is radiant energy which is produced by the sun. Daily the sun radiates, or sends out, an enormous volume of energy. The sun radiates more energy in a single second than people have used since the beginning of time!

The energy of the Sun derives from within the sun itself. Like other stars, the sun is known as a big ball of gasesĖĖmostly hydrogen and helium atoms.

The hydrogen atoms in the sunís core combine to create helium and generate energy in a process called nuclear fusion.

During nuclear fusion, the sunís extremely high pressure and temperature cause hydrogen atoms to come apart and their nuclei (the central cores of the atoms) to fuse or combine. Four hydrogen nuclei fuse to become one helium atom. But the helium atom contains less mass compared to four hydrogen atoms that fused. Some matter is lost during nuclear fusion. The lost matter is emitted into space as radiant energy.

It takes countless years for the energy in the sunís core to make its way to the solar surface, and then slightly over eight minutes to travel the 93 million miles to earth. The solar energy travels to the earth at a speed of 186,000 miles per second, the velocity of sunshine.

Only a small portion of the power radiated from the sun into space strikes our planet, one part in two billion. Yet this quantity of energy is enormous. Each day enough energy strikes the united states to supply the nationís energy needs for one and a half years!

Where does all this energy go?

About 15 percent of the sunís energy that hits our planet is reflected back into space. Another 30 percent is used to evaporate water, which, lifted into the atmosphere, produces rainfall. Solar energy also is absorbed by plants, the land, and the oceans. The rest could be used to supply our energy needs.

Who invented solar power ?

Folks have harnessed solar power for years and years. Since the 7th century B.C., people used simple magnifying glasses to concentrate the light of the sun into beams so hot they would cause wood to catch fire. Over 100 years ago in France, a scientist used heat from a solar collector to make steam to drive a steam engine. At first of this century, scientists and engineers began researching ways to use solar power in earnest. One important development was a remarkably efficient solar boiler introduced by Charles Greeley Abbott, an american astrophysicist, in 1936.

The solar water heater gained popularity at this time in Florida, California, and the Southwest. The industry started in the early 1920s and was in full swing just before World War II. This growth lasted prior to the mid-1950s when low-cost propane became the primary fuel for heating American homes.

The public and world governments remained largely indifferent to the possibilities of solar technology before oil shortages of the1970s. Today, people use solar technology to heat buildings and water and also to generate electricity.

How we use solar energy today ?

Solar energy is employed in a number of different ways, of course. There are two very basic forms of solar power:

* Solar thermal energy collects the sun's warmth through one of two means: in water or in an anti-freeze (glycol) mixture. * Solar photovoltaic energy converts the sun's radiation to usable electricity.

Let us discuss the five most practical and popular methods solar power can be used:

1. Small portable solar photovoltaic systems. We see these used everywhere, from calculators to solar garden products. Portable units can be used for everything from RV appliances while single panel systems are used for traffic signs and remote monitoring stations. 2. Solar pool heating. Running water in direct circulation systems via a solar collector is a very practical solution to heat water for your pool or spa. 3. Thermal glycol energy to heat water. In this method (indirect circulation), glycol is heated by natural sunlight and the heat is then transferred to water in a hot water tank. This process of collecting the sun's energy is much more practical now than ever before. In areas as far north as Edmonton, Alberta, solar thermal to heat water is economically sound. It can pay for itself in 3 years or less. 4. Integrating solar photovoltaic energy into your home or office power. In most parts of the world, solar photovoltaics is an economically feasible way to supplement the power of your property. In Japan, photovoltaics are competitive with other kinds of power. In america, new incentive programs make this form of solar energy ever more viable in many states. An increasingly popular and practical way of integrating solar energy into the power of your home or business is through the usage of building integrated solar photovoltaics. 5. Large independent photovoltaic systems. For those who have enough sun power at your site, you could possibly go off grid. You may also integrate or hybridize your solar power system with wind power or other forms of sustainable energy to stay 'off the grid.'

How do Photovoltaic panels work ?

Silicon is mounted beneath non-reflective glass to produce photovoltaic panels. These panels collect photons from the sun, converting them into DC electric power. The power created then flows into an inverter. The inverter transforms the energy into basic voltage and AC electricity.

Solar cells are prepared with particular materials called semiconductors such as silicon, which is presently the most generally used. When light hits the Photovoltaic cell, a certain share of it is absorbed inside the semiconductor material. This means that the energy of the absorbed light is given to the semiconductor.

The power unfastens the electrons, permitting them to run freely. Pv cells also have one or more electric fields that act to compel electrons unfastened by light absorption to flow in a specific direction. This flow of electrons is a current, and by introducing metal links on the top and bottom of the -Photovoltaic cell, the current can be drawn to use it externally.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of solar technology ?

Solar Pro Arguments

- Heating our homes with oil or propane or using electricity from power plants running with oil and coal is a reason behind climate change and climate disruption. Solar power, on the contrary, is clean and environmentally-friendly. - Solar hot-water heaters require little maintenance, and their initial investment could be recovered within a relatively limited time. - Solar hot-water heaters can work in almost any climate, even just in very cold ones. You just need to choose the best system for your climate: drainback, thermosyphon, batch-ICS, etc. - Maintenance costs of solar powered systems are minimal and the warranties large. - Financial incentives (USA, Canada, European statesÖ) can aid in eliminating the cost of the first investment in solar technologies. The U.S. government, as an example, offers tax credits for solar systems certified by by the SRCC (Solar Rating and Certification Corporation), which amount to 30 percent of the investment (2009-2016 period).

Solar Cons Arguments

- The initial investment in Solar Water heaters or in Solar PV Electric Systems is greater than that required by conventional electric and gas heaters systems. - The payback period of solar PV-electric systems is high, as well as those of solar space heating or solar cooling (only the solar warm water heating payback is short or relatively short). - Solar water heating do not support a direct in conjunction with radiators (including baseboard ones). - Some hvac (solar space heating and the solar cooling systems) are very pricey, and rather untested technologies: solar ac isn't, till now, a really economical option. - The efficiency of solar powered systems is rather influenced by sunlight resources. It's in colder climates, where heating or electricity needs are higher, that the efficiency is smaller.

About the writer - Barbara Young writes on camper solar kit in her personal hobby website 12voltsolarpanels.net. Her efforts are centered on helping people save energy using solar energy to lower CO2 emissions and energy dependency.

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