Electric cars are all the rage these days. Many manufacturers, such as Tesla, have created sleek vehicles that promise to change the way people think about driving. With more people trading in their gas guzzlers for electric vehicles, there is a growing need to understand how electricity is generated on a large scale.
The Rise in Solar Energy Use
In 2012, the cost of solar energy reached an all-time low. It was then and still is, one of the most attractive energy sources for homeowners and businesses alike. The cost of electricity generated by solar power is often competitive with or even lower than the cost of electricity generated by other traditional energy sources. In fact, some states have decided to switch entirely to solar energy, eliminating their commitment to nuclear power. Solar energy use is expected to increase nearly 40% in the next four years.
How Electricity is Generated
In broad terms, solar energy is the energy created by the natural rays of the sun. This energy can be harnessed and converted into usable electricity either directly or indirectly (via a solar cell or photovoltaic array, respectively). The direct conversion method, while the most popular and usually the most efficient, still has certain limitations. The more common method of converting solar energy to electricity is known as the indirect method. While there are many variations, the basic idea is to use a heat source (such as the sun) to heat up a heat-transfer fluid (such as water or metal), allowing the fluid to flow through a collector (such as a solar receiver or water pipes) that is equipped with a turbine. When the fluid passes through the collector, it causes the turbine to rotate, which in turn creates electricity through a dynamo. Besides being more efficient, the indirect method allows homeowners and businesses to purchase their energy individually, rather than having to rely on a large utility company.
The Decrease in Energy Costs
When the cost of solar energy was first reported as being lower than the cost of conventional forms of energy, many homeowners and businesses decided to invest in solar energy capacity. However, as the cost of solar energy has continued to decrease, it has not had the same level of appeal. While the cost of conventional forms of energy still varies by region and country, the cost of solar has reached a point where it is more affordable than ever before.
The Main Advantages of Solar Energy
When choosing solar energy over conventional forms of energy, homeowners and businesses must consider a number of factors. To name a few:
- Lower initial cost
- No moving parts or wear on equipment
- Less complex design
- No exposure to dangerous substances (such as fossil fuels)
- Simplicity of operation and maintenance
- Multiple power generation options
- Can be used in conjunction with, or instead of, conventional energy sources (such as fossil fuels and nuclear power)
- No harmful emissions
- Does not deplete over time
- Can be completely customized to the user’s needs
- Saves money over time (depending on your usage patterns)
- Reduces dependence on foreign suppliers for your energy needs
There is a wide variety of solar powered products and companies that provide homeowners and businesses with high-quality, low-cost electricity. No matter what your needs are, there is a reliable and cost-effective product out there to help you achieve them. If you’re interested, do some research online and you’ll find numerous articles, reviews, and comparisons of different solutions that can help you make the right choice for your needs.