Solar Power-The Basics

June 25, 2009 by  
Filed under Solar Energy

Solar power may seem like a modern phenomenon, but in actuality, solar energy has been used in diverse forms over the past thousands of years now.

Aside from the blatant fact that solar energy can help plants grow to feed us, there are also several more technological uses that date way back to millennia ago.

Ancient Greeks had the knowledge to harness steam power, which was produced by solar power radiation. Before the advent of industries, these devices were seen mainly as play things. However, there were some applications that were looked at in a serious manner. For instance, Archimedes came up with a design and built a huge magnifying glass, which was used to burn enemy ships. The Romans ended up adopting this technology, as well.

Over the past few centuries, heat storage containers, thermometers, and other devices have been invented which rely on solar energy. As time has gone by, these devices have become much more diverse, not to mention much more sophisticated.

In 1839, more leaps ensued as Becquerel discovered photovoltaic effects. This device took another hundred years before it was considered as practical, though.

When sunlight touches various things, electrons end up getting knocked off of their respective atoms. These electrons that move within material then produce an electric current, which is linked to a circuit. The solar power produced can then be used as electricity for light bulbs or computers and can even solar heat.

However, electricity isn’t the only kind of solar power available.

Back in the 1920s, several public heating systems would use huge storage tanks to keep solar energy, supplying homes with the solar heat. Soon thereafter, though these systems could not longer compete in the economy. Gradually, electricity and gas became cheaper to the point that it was much lower than the operating costs of these systems.

Because of this, these systems fell into disuse and were long forgotten. But the technology was still used as a mainstream method and worked for a while as a cost-effective solution.

Hundreds of possible applications exist that make use of solar power, converting solar energy at the surface for solar heating, device power and to supply solar energy.

Satellites have also made combined solar panels with respective technology to supply solar power. These systems may be costly, but when compared to the total cost, it really isn’t. This same kind of technology is able to supply solar power to lights and phones along the highway.

Many more benefits reap the advantages of solar power, as well.

Solar heating systems are used in thousands of homes and solar power electrical systems are widely used in rural areas where solar energy can be supplemented.

Not all of these solar systems and devices are highly costly, either. A lot of cheap solar power lawn lights can be seen at homes today. And some calculators can provide solar power through small solar panels. These are so cheap that they are oftentimes just given away by advertisers.

While solar power still can’t compete with today’s high-scale electricity generation by huge utility companies, its costs are decreasing as its applications are growing. With such a long past behind it, the future of solar power can only look bright.