What is solar energy?
Solar energy is the power of the sun; our life force; so all-encompassing and essential to our survival that our ancestors worshipped it as a deity, and without it, life as we know it would not exist. According to the US Department of Energy ‘The amount of solar energy that reaches the Earth each hour is equivalent to the amount of energy used by humans worldwide each year’. By using solar panels to convert the light from the sun into electricity, known as the photovoltaic process, we have the potential to supply mankind with an unlimited source of free and clean energy.
The benefits of solar energy
It’s environmentally friendly; solar electricity power plants and personal solar panels do not emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The impact on the environment is minimal; unlike most fossil fuel production, there is no need to extract raw materials from the earth,, and therefore removes the risk of destroying precious eco-systems through deforestation and mining.
It’s free; the sun’s rays are free for all and more importantly they are free from the fluctuation of prices caused by the disequilibrium of international politics.
There’s an infinite supply; as long as the sun keeps shining, the photovoltaic process will keep converting light into energy, and we can continue to heat our homes, run our vehicles and save our pennies.
Governments are taking action; the worldwide awareness for the need to lessen the ever increasing burden on the earth’s resources has become a heavy responsibility on the shoulders of those in power. In many countries governments are encouraging their citizens to embrace change, and switch to solar energy, by offering incentives in the form of rebates and subsidies, helping to cover the initial costs of installing solar panels and solar water heaters.
The benefits of solar panels
They’re low maintenance; once installed, solar panels begin to generate electricity immediately and require very little maintenance. An added bonus is the lack of noise pollution; the panels work in silence.
They don’t squeeze the wallet; generating our own electricity reduces monthly bills by significant amounts; for some people it allows them to live off the grid entirely.
There is great potential for production on a grand scale; large solar plants can generate a huge amount of energy that is not solely reliant on a daily dose of sunshine.
Technology is catching up; with continuing advancements in technology, solar panels are becoming more efficient in producing and storing energy. In time the price of installation will reduce, making it even more cost effective for home owners, landlords and business establishments, and therefore benefiting society as a whole.
Start with a solar water heater
Heating water accounts for around 30% of our yearly energy expenditure. Solar heated water is the ultimate in eco-friendly energy saving, and a great place to start when turning a house into a self-sufficient eco-home. A solar water heater only needs a few hours of sunlight a day to produce enough hot water for the whole family. It works by using the sun’s energy to heat water, a process called solar-thermal. In this case the water is heated directly by the sun’s rays rather than using the photovoltaic process of converting the sun’s energy into electricity.
The Environmental impact
It’s time to think green and give our planet some breathing room. Using solar power as an alternative natural energy source is the way forward; a beautiful compromise for those who want to live cleanly yet still enjoy the little life-style luxuries we’ve come to expect, like reading lamps, toasters and electric kettles; or the bigger luxuries like air-conditioning, home entertainment and fast cars. Solar power energy is not just a dream for modern-day hippies, it’s on its way to being a viable and necessary solution for everyone; worldwide.