In this article we’ll explain in layman’s terms and easy to understand for kids too, how solar energy works.
Solar energy is one of the most popular forms of renewable energy, and it’s easy to see why. Solar panels are becoming increasingly more efficient and less expensive, making them a great option for homeowners and businesses alike.
But how do solar panels work? And what are the benefits of solar energy?
Here’s a quick overview of how solar energy works, along with the benefits of using solar panels.
- 1 What Is Solar Energy?
- 2 How Does Solar Energy Work?
- 3 How Is Solar Energy Used?
- 4 The Two Types of Solar Energy
- 5 When Was Solar Power Discovered?
- 6 What Are Solar Farms?
- 7 Are Solar Panels And Solar Cells The Same Thing?
- 8 What Is Solar Energy Used For?
- 9 How Is Solar Energy Converted Into Electricity?
- 10 The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Solar Energy
- 11 Concentrating Solar-Thermal Power Basics
- 12 In Summary
What Is Solar Energy?
Solar energy is a sustainable, infinite, and affordable source of energy. It may be used to cook meals, heat water, and generate power. Furthermore, solar cells can store electrical energy generated from solar radiation.
Related: A few solar stats
How Does Solar Energy Work?
Solar energy works by trapping the sun’s rays in a solar panel. The solar panel is made up of many small solar cells. Solar cells are made of materials that allow them to absorb the sun’s rays and turn them into electricity.
How Is Solar Energy Used?
Solar energy can be used in many different ways. It can be used to heat homes and water, to produce electricity, and to power cars and other vehicles. Solar energy can also be used to provide light.
The Two Types of Solar Energy
Did you know that there are two types of solar energy? One is Photovoltaic solar technology and the other is Solar thermal technology.
Photovoltaic solar technology
Photovoltaic solar technology is used to generate electricity. Solar panels that are used for this purpose are usually made of silicon. When the sun’s rays hit the solar panel, the solar cells absorb the light and create an electric current.
Solar thermal technology
Solar thermal technology uses the sun’s energy to generate heat. Solar panels that are used for this purpose are usually made of metal. When the sun’s rays hit the solar panel, the metal absorbs the heat and transfers it to water or air. This can be used to heat homes or produce electricity.
Solar thermal heating is an ideal solution for heating a swimming pool because the water can be circulated through the solar panel to be heated and then returned to the pool.
It is also much cheaper to do this than to use fossil fuel alternatives such as natural gas or oil.
When Was Solar Power Discovered?
Humans have utilized solar energy since at least the 7th century B.C. when they used sunlight to light fires by reflecting the sun’s rays onto gleaming objects.
The Greeks and Romans, for example, in the 3rd century B.C., used mirrors to light torches during religious events using solar power.
Edmond Becquerel, a 19-year-old French physicist, discovered the photovoltaic (PV) effect in 1839 while experimenting with a cell made of metal electrodes in a conducting solution.
Edmond observed that the cell produced more electricity when exposed to light – it was a photovoltaic cell.
Can you believe that we now have satellites in space that use solar power?
The United States launched Vanguard 1 on March 17, 1958, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, as part of the opening salvoes in the Space Race.
The Soviets had already put Sputniks 1 and 2 into space, but Explorer 1 had been successfully orbited by the United States.
What Are Solar Farms?
Solar Farms are places where solar panels are set up in a large area to produce electricity. Solar farms can be found all over the world.
They are usually located in sunny places, such as deserts.
In India, the country where solar energy has gained popularity quickest, the Bhadla Solar Park is a solar park with a capacity of 2.245 GW located in Rajasthan state.
With a total capacity of 2.25 GW across 14,000 acres, it is the world’s largest solar farm as of today.
How do solar farms work?
Solar farms convert sunlight into electricity locally and then feed it into the local power grid.
They are time-limited, reversible land use that provides a more varied and secure source of income for farmers.
Are Solar Panels And Solar Cells The Same Thing?
Solar panels, often referred to as photovoltaic (PV) modules, are made up of solar cells mounted in a structure for installation.
Solar panels contain numerous solar cells connected in a series of parallel circuits to form a solar module since individual solar cells generate little energy.
Solar cells, on the other hand, are individual devices that capture sunlight and convert it into electricity.
They are often made of cadmium telluride (CdTe), copper indium selenide (CIS or CIGS), or crystalline silicon (c-Si).
What Is Solar Energy Used For?
Solar energy is popular for solar water heaters and domestic heating. Solar ponds generate heat, allowing the generation of chemicals, food, textiles, warm greenhouses, swimming pools, and livestock buildings through the use of solar energy.
Solar energy may also be used to cook food and provide electricity for electronic goods.
They can also be used for:
- Solar Powered Ventilation Fans.
- Solar Heating for Your Swimming Pool.
- Solar Water Heaters.
- Solar House Heating.
- Solar-Powered Pumps.
- Charging Batteries With Solar Power.
- Powering Your Home With Photo-Electric.
How Is Solar Energy Converted Into Electricity?
Solar energy may be converted to direct current (DC) electricity by solar cells (photovoltaic cells).
When light strikes the junction between a metal and a semiconductor (such as silicon) or the junction between two different semiconductors, a little electric voltage is generated in photovoltaic cells.
How long does it take for solar panels to generate electricity?
The amount of energy a solar panel generates is determined by a variety of factors, but you can anticipate a typical single solar panel in the United States to produce about 2 kWh per day, saving you $0.36 each day on your power bill.
Is solar power a clean energy source?
Yes, solar power is one of the cleanest energy sources available. Solar panels produce no emissions when generating electricity, and they have a very small carbon footprint over their lifetime.
What are some of the disadvantages of solar power?
The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Solar Energy
There are several advantages and disadvantages of solar energy to consider.
The Advantages of Solar Energy
1. Solar energy is a renewable resource.
2. Solar energy is free once you have installed the initial equipment.
3. Solar energy is environmentally friendly because it does not produce harmful emissions or pollutants.
4. Solar energy can be used in remote locations where there is no access to other power sources.
5. Solar energy can be used to generate electricity, heat water, or power vehicles.
6. Reduced electric bill – You will no longer have to pay so much for electricity because you will be producing your own.
7. No emissions – Solar power does not produce any harmful emissions or pollutants, making it a very environmentally friendly option.
8. Solar panels can last for decades – Solar panels are built to last for many years, and they often come with 20-25 year warranties.
9. Insurance against rising energy costs – Solar energy can insulate you against future rises in electricity costs.
10. Cheaper power source in the long run – Solar energy is cheaper than fossil fuels in the long run, making it a wise investment.
11. Return on investment – Solar energy can provide a good return on investment, especially if you take advantage of government incentives.
The Disadvantages of Solar Energy
1. The initial cost of solar equipment can be high.
2. Solar panels require a sunny location to work well and do not work at night or on cloudy days.
3. Solar panels are less efficient than some other forms of energy generation, such as nuclear power.
4. Solar panels take up a lot of space and can be difficult to install.
5. Solar panels can be damaged by severe weather conditions, such as hailstorms or hurricanes.
6. Requires sunny weather to work best – Solar panels work best in sunny weather, so they may not be as effective in locations that don’t get a lot of sun.
7. Manufacturing solar panels can harm the environment. This is because the manufacturing process can release harmful chemicals into the air and water.
8. Solar panels require regular cleaning – Solar panels need to be kept clean in order to work effectively, which means they require some maintenance.
9. May not provide enough power – Solar panels may not provide enough power for all of your energy needs, especially if you live in a cloudy or cold climate.
10. Not always reliable – Solar panels are not always reliable, as they rely on the sun to work. If there is a power outage, solar panels will not be able to provide all of the power that a medium-sized house needs.
11. Low energy conversion rate – Solar panels have a low energy conversion rate, meaning that they only convert a small amount of the sun’s energy into electricity.
12. Cannot be used at night – Unlike other forms of energy generation, solar panels cannot be used at night.
13. May require battery backup – Solar panels may require a battery backup system to store the electricity they generate for use at night or during power outages.
14. Solar panels can be expensive to repair – If solar panels are damaged, they can be expensive to repair or replace.
15. Solar panels are fixed at their installed location – Solar panels cannot be moved around to take advantage of the sun’s moveable position. This means that they may not be able to produce as much power in the winter when the sun is lower in the sky.
16. Solar farms can have a negative impact on the environment – Solar farms can take up large amounts of land, and they can have a negative impact on the environment.
17. Solar panels can be stolen – Solar panels can be stolen, which can be a problem in areas with high crime rates.
Concentrating Solar-Thermal Power Basics
Concentrating solar-thermal systems (CSP) use mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto receivers that collect solar energy and convert it to heat, which can then be used to make electricity or stored for later usage. It is utilized in huge power plants.
So there you have it, a basic explanation of how solar energy works. Solar panels absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity, which can be used to power your home or business.
Solar energy has a lot of advantages, including being renewable and environmentally friendly. However, there are also some disadvantages to consider, such as the initial cost of solar equipment and the fact that solar panels require sunny weather to work well.
If you’re considering switching to solar power, it’s important to do your research and weigh all of the pros and cons before making a decision.