What is Solar Energy and How Can We Harness It?

Solar energy is one of the cleanest sources of renewable energy available today. Learn more about how we can harness this inexhaustible source of power.

What is Solar Energy and How Can We Harness It?

Solar energy is the energy of the sun that is converted into thermal or electrical energy. It is the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source available, and the U. S. has some of the richest solar resources in the world.

Solar technologies can harness this energy for a variety of uses, including generating electricity, providing light or a comfortable indoor environment, and heating water for domestic, commercial, or industrial use. The amount of sunlight that hits the Earth's surface in an hour and a half is enough to manage the energy consumption of the entire world for an entire year. Solar technologies convert sunlight into electrical energy, either through photovoltaic (PV) panels or through mirrors that concentrate solar radiation. This energy can be used to generate electricity or be stored in batteries or thermal storage.

Solar energy is created by nuclear fusion that takes place in the sun and is necessary for life on Earth. In 1954, photovoltaic technology was born when Daryl Chapin, Calvin Fuller and Gerald Pearson developed the silicon photovoltaic cell at Bell Labs in 1954, the first solar cell capable of absorbing and converting enough of the sun's energy into energy to power everyday electrical equipment. Small photovoltaic cells can power calculators, clocks, and other small electronic devices. Arrangements of many solar cells in photovoltaic panels and arrangements of multiple photovoltaic panels in photovoltaic panels can produce electricity for an entire home.

Some photovoltaic power plants have large arrays that cover many acres to produce electricity for thousands of homes. Solar radiation can also be converted directly into electricity by solar cells or photovoltaic cells, or used to cook food in specially designed solar ovens, which normally concentrate sunlight from a wide area to a central point. Solar panels and cells can be attached to the roofs or exterior walls of buildings, supplying electricity to the structure. Solar energy has many advantages over other forms of renewable energy sources such as wind and hydropower.

Solar energy is inexhaustible and non-polluting, making it an attractive option for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint. Additionally, solar energy is available almost everywhere on Earth, making it accessible to people in remote areas who may not have access to other forms of renewable energy sources. Solar energy can also be used to heat water for domestic use or to provide hot water for industrial processes. Solar thermal systems use mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto a receiver which absorbs the heat and transfers it to a fluid which is then used to heat water or other fluids.

This type of system can be used to provide hot water for swimming pools or hot tubs as well as providing hot water for domestic use. Floating solar panels are photovoltaic systems that float on the surface of drinking water reservoirs, quarry lakes, irrigation canals, or recovery and tailings ponds. Thermal mass is any material that can be used to store the heat of the Sun in the case of solar energy. Greenhouses convert sunlight into heat, allowing year-round production and growth (indoors) of specialty crops and other plants that do not naturally adapt to the local climate.

Another positive clean energy for solar energy is that, unlike burning fossil fuels, converting sunlight into energy does not generate harmful greenhouse gas emissions. The World Solar Challenge is a biannual solar-powered car race, in which teams from universities and companies compete along 3,021 kilometers (1,877 miles) in central Australia, from Darwin to Adelaide. On April 29, 1979, the Solar Riser made the first flight in a solar-powered flying machine, fully controlled and carried by a man, reaching an altitude of 40 feet (12 m). When considering whether or not to invest in solar energy technology it is important to consider both short-term costs as well as long-term savings.

Then calculate how much the long-term solar option would cost you and how much you would save over time. With a background in environmental and geological sciences, Jacob brings an analytical perspective and a passion for conservation to help solar buyers make the right energy choices for their pocket and the environment.

Ismael Slagter
Ismael Slagter

Amateur sushi practitioner. Extreme internet nerd. Incurable internetaholic. Proud zombie ninja. Total foodaholic. Incurable social media lover.