You have probably heard about solar power and how much potential it holds to become a sustainable energy source. If not, then you probably know someone who is obsessed with solar power and buys all the available products that can be used to generate electricity from the Sun. That person is undoubtedly an evangelist for solar power and a firm believer in its potential to become a sustainable energy source for our planet.
If that sounds like you, then this article is for you. Here we will tell you everything you need to know about solar power and why you should care.
What Is Solar Power?
Solar power is the generation of electricity using various forms of energy from the Sun. It does this effectively by converting the Sun’s radiation into electrical energy which can be stored and used as required. This is in stark contrast to conventional power sources which are dependent on fossil fuels (such as coal, oil, and gas) to generate electricity.
The amount of electricity which can be generated from the Sun varies based on several factors such as location and time of day. However, as a general rule of thumb, you can expect a solar array to produce about 0.5 to 1.5 kW of power per day (based on the type of solar cell used and the temperature of the Sun).
Why Should You Care?
Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: solar power is not a panacea. Like all other forms of renewable energy, it has its ups and downs. It has its advantages but also its disadvantages. Here are the advantages.
- It’s environmentally friendly
- Due to its environmentally friendly nature, it has minimal impact on the environment
- It’s a free form of energy
- It can be generated anywhere
- It’s available 24 hours a day
And here are the disadvantages.
- To generate enough electrical power to meet your needs, you will need a large solar array (hence the name ‘solar power’).
- The efficiency of solar cells decreases over time (due to exposure to the elements and radiation from the Sun).
- The cost of generating electricity from solar power is higher than that of conventional ways (due to the high initial investment in a solar array)
- There’s no standard measurement for how much electricity you can generate (each solar cell is different)
In many places around the world, solar power is already being used to generate electricity which is then sold to the public through power grids. This is a common occurrence in regions such as Australia and South Africa (among others).
Advantages Of Solar Power
Despite its disadvantages, solar power has several advantages that make it a desirable energy source for many. First, let’s take a look at the environmental advantages.
- It has minimal impact on the environment
- There’s no pollution on a solar energy generation site
- Solar power plants require very little space
- Solar power is completely natural and sustainable
- It doesn’t require government subsidies
Then, let’s take a look at the economic advantages of solar power.
- It’s a free form of energy
- It’s environmentally friendly
- It’s a quick way to generate energy
- More and more people are switching to solar power as an affordable form of renewable energy
Next, let’s discuss some of the specific advantages of solar energy in Florida.
The Sun In Florida
Let’s begin by discussing something which virtually every person in Florida will be able to relate to, and that is the Sun. The Sun is always shining in Florida, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This is a fact which cannot be denied. Even if there is no direct sunlight, the Sun still manages to produce heat through its energy which is then redistributed by atmospheric currents surrounding the planet (a process known as ‘global warming’.)
It is, therefore, not surprising that Florida is one of the top states for solar power development. The heat from the Sun naturally heats the air in Florida, allowing for extremely efficient electricity generation. (In fact, some areas of Florida are so hot that they are classified as ‘zones’ under the National Standard for Power Generation (‘the NESPRS’.))
The most significant fact about the Sun in Florida is how powerful it is. (As mentioned, the Sun is always shining in Florida, even if it’s dark and cloudy outside.) The average intensity of the Sun’s radiation is about 1,000,000 watts/m^2, making it one of the most powerful natural sources of energy known to science. (For comparison, the light sources commonly used for photocopiers and laser printers have an average intensity value of about 100,000 watts/m^2 or less.)
The Sunshine State
Another significant fact about Florida is that it is often referred to as ‘the sunshine state’. Let’s unpack that a little bit. The Sunshine State is frequently sunny, making it a very good state in which to build structures (homes, businesses, etc.). This of course is well understood and is the reason why so many people want to move to Florida and become familiar with the Sunshine State. (I’m including myself in this group.)
The Sun is responsible for much of the air which we breathe. While we are not technically located in the Sunshine State air in fact emanates from all over Florida (and beyond). The point is that we are able to live a healthy life because of the Sun. In addition to this, nearly 72 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, leaving only 28 percent available for habitation. This makes the Sun almost certainly the most significant energy source on this planet. (Unless you are living in a sheltered community, you are relying on the Sun for water purposes and for heat, making it a critical resource.)
A Warm Place To Build
Another significant advantage of Florida is that it is a warm place to build. This is significant because many forms of renewable energy (such as solar power) require a certain temperature range in order to be efficient at generating electricity. The warm temperatures in Florida allow for efficient power generation time after time after time. (Just keep in mind that the output of solar cells decreases significantly as the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. At this point, it’s not efficient for generating electricity and may, in fact, be counterproductive.)
Florida is home to several major research labs which conduct experiments and tests on solar power generation and storage. These research labs are often run by university professors or graduate students who are engaged in studying the capabilities and potential of solar power. They use this knowledge to develop new products and patents for the benefit of the global solar power community. (The economic value of these inventions adds up to the cost of a solar array for many home and businesses.)