Solar Power-The Perfect Renewable Energy?

April 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Solar Energy

When it comes to renewable energy, solar power would seem to have it all. It is the choice of many who have gone “off grid” because it is completely sustainable, clean, and greenhouse gas free. This energy source can never run out, as the sun generates more energy each day than could ever be used, even if everyone in the world went solar.

Solar energy can be harnessed more efficiently than ever before thanks to photovoltaic, or PV technology. Through PV technology, silicon is used as a base for photovoltaic cells that collect light and convert it to voltage to power homes. Solar power has been in use for centuries, even as far back as in the Greco-Roman culture when solar energy was used to heat bath houses and villas. The first solar collector was invented in 1767 by Horace-Benedict de Saussure.

As the years passed, the discovery of selenium in 1817 improved solar collecting technology. It was studied by Albert Einstein with his team of scientists in the early 20th century, which led to more efficient use of sunlight as an energy source. The use of silicon added to solar power’s popularity in the 1950s and 1960s, when NASA used solar power to operate spacecrafts.

Home use of solar energy began mostly with small light-powered devices and home energy systems for mostly remote off grid areas. In the last quarter century, solar technology has advanced to the point that it can power almost anything and can be used as a power source both off and on grid.

Modern solar power doesn’t just use the sun’s heat, as with solar water heaters. It actually uses the light photons in sunlight and converts it to energy. When sunlight hits the silicon on PV modules, electrons are freed to produce power. They are collected off of the silicon wafers into direct current (DC) wires that can be converted and used to power a home.

Solar energy systems require planning for installation, as adaptations to your home may be needed. With the installation of enough solar panels and a battery back up system, an entire home can be powered on solar energy alone. Large batteries are needed to store power for use during cloudy or overcast weather when sunlight can’t be collected.

Homes that have solar energy systems can also be connected to a local power utility as a backup. When more energy is collected than is needed to power the home, sometimes some of the electricity can be sold back to the utility company. The end result is that the home is mostly run on clean and renewable energy, the homeowners don’t have to worry about a shortage during inclement weather, and money is saved on energy bills and can even be purchased back to offset other usage.

Solar power is a clean, renewable energy source with many benefits for home use. Off grid or on, there are many advantages to using our planet’s limitless, economical, and efficient light energy source in any way possible, from powering small items to entire homes.