What Is Solar Energy? – A Summary of How Solar Works

Once thought of as a luxury good, energy generated by the sun is now crucial to our survival. From providing our daily electricity to driving our cars to running our homes, solar energy has replaced coal, gas, and other fossil fuels as the preferred and most affordable source of energy. As the world’s population grows and the demand for energy increases, more and more people are turning to solar power to help meet these needs.

While recent years have seen a boom in solar power, the technology is still considered fairly new and can be tricky to understand. If you’re looking to get started with solar or simply want to learn more about what it is, this article will shed some light on the subject and provide you with an overview of how solar energy works.

The Basics Of Solar

To put it simply, solar energy is the energy that the sun provides directly to the earth. As the name would suggest, all the energy that we get from the sun is stored in the sun itself, so it cannot be destroyed or used up. This is in contrast to non-renewable sources of energy such as coal and gas, which are considered finite resources and will eventually run out.

The energy that we get from the sun is called solar radiation and it is essentially the same as the energy we get from other sources such as stars and nuclear fission. However, the energy density of the sun’s radiation is about 1,000 times higher than that of other sources, which helps to make it the preferred energy source of choice.

The amount of energy the sun provides to the earth is actually quite substantial and a lot of research and development has gone into capturing this energy and converting it to usable electricity. As a result, solar power now available today is more reliable and has many advantages over traditional energy sources.

Where Does All The Sun’s Energy Go?

When the sun’s rays hit the earth, they are converted into heat by the rays hitting the surface and the heat is then radiated away into space by thermal radiation. This heat is what we as humans call energy and it is the same as the energy the sun provides to the earth. In fact, the earth receives about the same amount of energy from the sun each day and it remains constant all year long.

Our immediate environment plays a large role in determining how much energy we get from the sun. As a result, the closer a location is to the equator, the more solar energy that location will receive. Conversely, the farther a location is from the equator, the less solar energy it will receive. The amount of energy that a region receives from the sun depends on many factors such as the angle of the rays, the surface area of the region, and the time of day.

The earth’s atmosphere also plays a crucial role in helping to trap heat and prevent it from escaping into space. The amount of solar energy that reaches the surface varies with the amount of atmosphere between approximately 10 miles and 60 miles above the surface. For example, the sun’s radiation intensity is at its lowest at 20 miles above the surface and it increases by the 20th layer. The total energy trapped by our atmosphere is enormous and it helps to make the sun the ultimate eco-friendly power source.

Why Use Solar Energy?

Thanks to abundant energy supply and cost-effective manufacturing, photovoltaic solar cells have become much more affordable over the years. As a result, more and more homes and businesses are turning to solar power over traditional energy sources. If you’re looking for a renewable, clean energy source, which does not contribute to global warming, the sun is the ultimate option.

In addition, solar energy is highly efficient. The amount of energy that can be generated from a unit area of solar cells is about the same as that of a conventional power plant. However, the latter requires a lot of land and produces a great deal of pollution in the process. This makes solar energy quite valuable indeed.

Another great thing about solar energy is that it is quite stable. This is because the sun provides energy to the earth in a steady manner and there are no fluctuations or interruptions in its energy supply. If you’re looking for a reliable energy source, then solar power is a great option since it doesn’t depend on the economy or political stability in any way.

The above factors make solar energy an attractive option for residential and commercial use. If you are interested in generating your own electricity or need a reliable power supply for your home, then solar energy is the clear choice.

Types Of Solar Energy

The sun provides us with radiation in the form of both ultraviolet rays and visible light, which are both forms of energy. The spectrum of visible light is made up of roughly 5% ultraviolet light, which is a type of energy called radiant energy or light energy. This light can be useful for a variety of applications including telecommunications, computers, manufacturing, and transportation, among others.

When light energy is converted into electricity, it is typically referred to as solar power.

There are four types of solar power:

  • Direct use of the sun’s energy (e.g., through photovoltaic cells)
  • Thermal use of the sun’s energy (e.g., through solar heat collection)
  • Fluorescent lighting
  • Piggyback power system (e.g., with wind energy)

Direct use of the sun’s energy entails the capture of the sun’s light using photovoltaic cells and the generation of electricity from this light. This form of solar power is the most common and also the most straightforward. It involves the least amount of conversion and it allows for the generation of electricity on a large scale.

Thermal use of the sun’s energy entails the collection of heat from the sun using a variety of methods and converting this heat to electricity. This option provides a lot of flexibility since it allows for the conversion of energy when and where needed. For example, power can be generated using a solar collector during the day when the sun is at its peak and the temperature is at its highest. Alternatively, thermal solar power can be generated at night when the sun is at its lowest and the temperature is at its lowest. The collection of heat from the sun at night and the generation of electricity at this time is often referred to as cold power.

With fluorescent lighting, some of the light emitted by a lamp is converted into electricity, providing an economical alternative to incandescent lighting. The two options have the same overall effect, which is to replace incandescent and other forms of lighting with electricity. Another advantage of fluorescent lighting is that it doesn’t require constant replacement since it continues to illuminate even when disconnected from the electricity supply.

Piggyback power systems involve the connection of 2 or more power sources such that they function as a single unit. One of the sources is typically solar while the other is usually a wind turbine or a hydroelectric dam. This option provides an extra boost to power generation during times of need. For example, if there is a power outage when the wind stops or if the sun doesn’t shine during the day, the system will provide electricity to avoid any interruptions in service.

Solar photovoltaic cells are available in a variety of forms including crystalline silicon, thin film, and dye-sensitized. Each type of solar cell has its advantages and disadvantages, which will be discussed in more detail later in this article. For now, it’s important to understand the fundamentals of how solar energy works and the role that each type of cell plays in converting solar radiation into electricity.

The Role of Each Type Of Cell

Every solar cell contains a PN junction, which is a type of diode. This diode allows electricity to flow in one direction only, which is from the anode to the cathode. This is called forward bias. In forward bias, the PN junction allows electrons to flow across it from the anode to the cathode, resulting in a current flow.

To produce electricity, the PN junction of a solar cell requires a circuit in which electrons flow continuously in one direction, as mentioned above. This circuit can be formed by connecting the anode of the cell to the positive pole of a voltage source and then connecting the cathode to the negative pole of the voltage source. The resulting electron flow generates a direct current (DC) electric current, which is then available to be connected to a device that will use this current. This device could be another solar cell or a load, which is connected to the positive pole of the voltage source in order to draw even more current.

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