Scientists have calculated that each hour the sun shines its light energy on earth, that capacity, once harnessed, can meet the earth’s energy needs for a whole year! While solar companies are doing their bit to help make an ever-popular renewable energy source easily available to consumers, solar technology only meets 1/10th of one percent of the earth’s energy demand. Both commercial and residential incentives for solar power installation remain, so the time couldn’t be better to switch to solar in 2013 either at home or at the office.
Most folks have gotten used to some of the most basic uses of solar technology, so much so it may have become passé on a small scale. For example, most individuals are aware conceptually of photovoltaic cells used in solar panels at home, commercially, on spacecraft, etc.—even many handheld devices such as calculators. Each small cell is comprised of semiconductor materials such as those found in computer chips. As the sun hits each cell, the light knocks electrons free from their atoms, setting their flow in motion, which subsequently generates electricity. That’s the most basic description.
In contrast, large-scale explanations display some diverse applications and techniques that generate energy and heat. Once generated, heat can boil water to drive steam turbines which, in turn, generates electricity similar to coal or nuclear power, yet without the disastrous carbon emissions so damaging and deleterious to life and the environment.
One solar collection process employs long troughs of U-shaped mirrors, which focus sunlight on pipes of oil running through their middle. Once heated, the hot oil boils water for electric generation. Another process takes movable mirrors and focuses the sun’s rays on a collector tower that has molten salt in a receiver, which, as it passes through, generates power.
At its most passive, solar power can harness the heat that passes through large banks of windows. The sunlight is absorbed into heat-trapping material on walls and floors, which then release that heat to keep the room or building warm. Of course, most individuals are now familiar with solar panels and plates on rooftops that generates electricity for appliances in the home or office.
Even though the sun’s capacity is infinite, applications have not become extensive although they are increasing at a significant pace—about 20% year over year in the last decade alone. Innovation continues to abound with solar energy powering automobiles, satellites, tortilla ovens in Mexico, as well as increasing applications by power companies, with alternate renewable energy use such as wind turbines complimenting solar production. Because solar power is clean, infinite and essentially noise free, it continues to provide an inexhaustible power source for the future.
Finally, because financing incentives are still available through solar companies and because the systems typically pay for themselves within 10 years, often less depending on size and consumption needs, solar energy remains a smart buy.
Article courtesy of solar electricity company, Baker Electric Solar. Let them help you make the switch to a renewable solar energy source today.