What is solar power, and how does it work? As the name would suggest, solar power is generated by the Sun. The Sun is a huge source of energy that keeps our planet alive by transforming the earth’s atmosphere into breathable air, regulating the temperature and providing us with light. The energy of the Sun can be harnessed and turned into electricity which can then be stored and used as needed. Solar power is one of the most environmentally friendly and sustainable sources of energy available. It does not emit greenhouses gases, it is non-toxic and there are no harmful byproducts when it is used and disposed of responsibly. The principle behind solar power generation is the same as any other type of energy – you need to convert the potential energy of the source into usable electricity.
The Difference In The Way The Energy Is Generated
The biggest difference in the way solar power is generated versus other forms of energy is the way it is gathered – typically, solar power is collected via large mirrors that track the movement of the Sun, reflecting the sunlight back to a solar receiver which in turn produces electricity. The sun follows a typical path across the sky and the mirrors on the rooftop collect as much sunlight as possible, storing it until the sun disappears below the horizon – at which point the process is repeated. This is in comparison to hydroelectric dams which store the energy of falling water, or nuclear power plants which release the energy of radioactive material.
Types Of Solar Power Technology
There are two types of solar power technology which exist: photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP). The first is easy to understand but requires a lot of work to implement – it involves the use of solar cells, which absorb light and generate electricity as a byproduct. PV cells are usually silicon-based and can be arranged in a number of ways to maximize power generation. Most commonly they are arranged in a rectangular shape and connected in series to form a panel, with the panels connected in parallel to form a rooftop solar array. A number of different companies manufacture panels for rooftop solar energy generation, the most prominent being SolarWorld and Trina.
Concentrated solar power involves the use of lenses or mirrors to focus as much sunlight as possible into a small area (the focal point), causing the temperature to exceed that of normal sunlight. The heat is then transferred to a working fluid which is then converted into electricity via traditional thermodynamic processes – although some firms are developing solar-powered rockets, whose engines could be fueled by solar energy!). The main benefit of CSP is that it can operate at higher temperatures, meaning it is capable of generating more electricity. The downside is that it is more complex and costly to implement.
How Much Energy Does It Take To Generate Solar Power On-site?
The amount of energy needed to generate enough solar power to meet the needs of an individual person varies but is dependent on a number of factors. The capacity of the individual receiver unit, the efficiency of the solar cells and the height of the roof are some of the main determining factors. Calculations of this type are usually performed using computer software such as PV-Calc which can be found on the internet. For the purposes of this article, we will use a figure of 15kWh per day (kilowatt-hour) which is the amount of energy recommended for a home of an average individual (the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) has published recommendations for residential use but these vary by state).
Now let’s consider some of the factors which affect the amount of energy needed: