Solar Energy Overview

Use of sun rays as a renewable energy source seem to become highly popular. Human race uses it both on macro and micro scale. In macro scale we can see huge solar plants being build by governments or private consortiums. They are able to supply with electricity whole cities. On the micro scale we observe people using home energy solar systems growing in numbers. I’d like to share some interesting facts about solar energy in use in the post below. These will be not only advantages of it, but also minuses and curiosities. I’ll also explore on what the prediction for the future are.

We use energy of the sun for our advantage in few different ways. There are water-heating systems that provide warmth for swimming pools, houses, and other buildings. There are small batteries build into pocket devices like calculators, that can power them virtually infinitely. We use sun rays for drying clothes from ages. Solar –powered cars have already been build, andUSscientists invented and build even plane that runs on sun energy. And of course the most important use of sun we’ll talk about here is solar panels that collect sun rays and transform them into electricity.

If you consider switching into using solar energy you should be aware of a sort of paradox that often occurs. It’s that these solutions can be really expensive at the beginning (especially if you buy ready systems, and not build them yourself). This is mainly because materials that are used in construction of these systems are relatively expensive at the moment. Yet on  the other hand when the initial investment paid back, the energy is actually free – you’ve got a sort of free energy generator on your roof. What is also a big benefit, is that solar panels don’t need any maintenance – you just install them and forget about them. The only exception is in winter, in case snow covering your panels.  You need to do some work and just wipe it our then (and that usually means getting to the roof first… which is not fun in winter). This investment that is necessary at the beginning is primary reason this technology hasn’t already spread across the world.

Another sort of paradox is about dependency. If you’ve got your own electricity source, you can really feel independent from energy consortiums. This is an important factor for many of those who buy solar panels. The dark side of that is that it makes you dependent on the weather. If there is power outage and everyone stays in blackout, it doesn’t touch you. But, if there is cloudy day sixth day in a row, it does affect you strongly. Not fun.

If we think about buying a solar-powered car, we should know they’re much slower then ‘traditional’ cars at the moment. This may change in quite short time, as technology development is nowadays really fast. And if we are remained that aircraft powered with the sun energy has already been built, we are sure that there is not a long way to go.

Solar Energy Drawbacks

Solar panels may become our main sources of electric power in years to come. Today they’re just one of electricity sources that we use as alternatives to fossil fuels.  In future we’ll move into direction of renewable energy we should have  a look at benefits and limitations of all of them. Below I’ll just focus on the drawbacks of solar panels.

Firs thing. Using them we rely on the weather. If the sky is cloudy or polluted, it’s going to  decrease amount of energy that battery will be able to receive. In most cloudy days it can even go down to zero. We don’t really want to feel that that if we can heat our home, or even watch TV depends on how clear the sky is.

Second thing. What flows out from the previous one – these panels only work during the day. Of course we will store the power we gathered last day using our backup battery system or net metering… but in some places on the earth day is really short.  What then? And in winter days are shorter everywhere… The more advanced this methods of storage will become, the more reliable these systems will be.

Third issue. At the moment the initial cost of installing such a system is high. Too high for most of us. Primary reason for that is that semi-conducting materials we use in their construction are so expensive. When more and more people will decide to install solar panel, prices will eventually drop down for sure. Everything becomes cheaper when it’s more popular. If more people will be interested in buying it, there will be more competition out there on the market, and competition cuts prices down. But here and now their prices are just too high.

Fourth thing. You need some space to put your solar batteries on it. It’s not a problem if you own a house – you get on the roof and put them there. But so many people in the earth stay in the blocks of flats – and there is only one roof for few dozens of people there. One solar panel will not collect enough of energy for all of them. The good solution of this problem would be if we’d build big solar batteries located in remote areas that would collect great amounts of power. This energy  would be then distributed to such blocks of flats. But this again would be quite expensive, and today it’s just a futurology

Above I briefly described are main limitations of solar energy panels that we’re facing today.  Only when we know them we can do something to overcome them. Or to find other free energy generator that will be easier accessible.

Main alternative energy sources

We as a human race use more and more of electricity every year. Fossil fuels will come to an end sooner or later and we will have to switch into some alternatives. We use some of them already (in most countries on a small scale). Lets have a look at most popular of them.

windmills + solar panelsOne -Windmills. They’re with us for hundred years already. Wind is a great energy source as it’s renewable (it will keep blowing) and ecological (we don’t need to emit any sort of toxic smoke, to use it). It’s widely accessible across the world. The minus of this solution is that using it we depend on the weather. If there is no wind, we get electricity amount equal to zero – not fun.

Two - Solar panels. Sun emits so huge amounts of  power that if we could capture all of it for just one hour  - we would be able to power with electricity the whole planet for a whole year. Nowadays we use few kinds of solar panels like, photoelectric cells, and heliostats (which are basically synchronised mirrors following sun as it moves on the sky).

Three - Free energy generator – basing on Zero Point Magnetic Power. Therese are magnetic devices  producing higher quantity of energy than they use. Working 100%  to power your house.  You can buy an e-book and build it by yourself – e-book are popularised on a Do It Yourself scheme.

Four - Biomass. This is basically everything that comes from living organism We’ve bee using it for the longest time. During ancient times we used wood to get fire. There is a minus  of this biomass. And it is that unless you use plant that was already death, you need to put next plants into the ground to keep ecosystem in harmony.

Five - Water turbines. Putting turbine into strong water current we get  the same result as we get with windmills. It’s just taking place underwater. This source is independent from the weather. Unfortunately is limited to places in close vicinity  to rivers.

Solar Energy Advantages

Solar panels are recognized as one of possible main sources of electricity of tomorrow. Today they’re just one of alternatives to fossil fuels. And they’re not in wide usage, just as biomass, windmills and water turbines, or geothermal energy. As one day we’ll be made to completely switch to renewables it’s great thing to analyze benefits and drawbacks of all of them today. In this article I’m going to explore advantages of solar panels exclusively.

First – solar energy is renewable. That means we’re never going to run out of it. Just compare it with coal, oil and gas. In one hour sun emits  so much power into earth’s direction, that if we only were able to capture it, we will power the whole planet for a year. The possibilities are huge. If we’ll only succeed in improving this technology this may completely fix all our energy problems.

Next issue – this electricity is a real “green energy”. No toxic chemicals or noise is involved – it’s completely silent and safe. This issue is growing in importance as our environment becomes more polluted every year, and what’s more we use more electricity every year. So if we’ll not switch into renewables, is not going to change.

Thirdly solar panels don’t  need any maintenance at all. This is huge benefit comparing with wind energy. You just set the panels once, and then you just leave them, enjoying virtually free energy. Solar panel once set up, will work for you for a very long time with no repairs, recurring, improvements or anything like that. Only during the winter you need to wipe snow out of it

Fourth advantage – electricity extracted from sun rays doesn’t bring any costs with it. Solar panel can be called free energy generator. If you use lots of energy in your home, the payback period  for initial investment may be really short. And after recurring it you’re independent from energy consortiums and your local supplier. You don’t worry about increasing power prices any more. The cost of picking solar rays will stay at the same level  – which is zero. What’s more, in some countries solar panels are covered with some sort of tax credit or incentive (usually around 20-30% of the system price). These are just main benefits of solar panels.

The History of Solar Energy

From how long do you think we use sun energy? Most of think it’s just from few years.. yet this technology would be highly developed already, if we worked on it some longer right? As it brings us free electricity, and uses potential of the sun that in our understanding is close to unlimited, it would squeeze fossil fuels out completely in short time, right? Unfortunately no. Researches on solar energy usage have been taking place from a long time. Exactly from the beginning of ninetieth century already. We noticed fist successes in powering a house with solar energy as early as in 1883 – and still we mostly use fossil fuels today.

As early as during ancient times Greeks and Romans used to build their homes at  a particular angle, that they calculated in details. Thanks to that they could use minimum quantity of wood to heat the house. That was extremely important as proper wood was a rare commodity that times. Even famous philosopher Socrates once told that each house should be south facing. Thanks to that it’ll be receiving a maximum amount of sunrays during the winter. AfterRoman Empirefallen, the idea of using solar energy disappeared for as along as about two thousand years.

And then the renewal time came.  During Industrial Revolution people started massively using fossil fuels to produce electricity. Auguste Mouchout was the first to invent solar battery. He understood the limitations of oil and coal so long ago, when it seems that some people can’t see them even today. These times we were finding new resources of oil and coal on a regular basis. That was the reason no one could actually imagine we’ll ever run out of them. in 1861 first solar battery working fully on solar energy was build. We can say that was the firs free energy generator in the history. Bad luck that was the time when coal prices were dropping down rapidly, and the device was expensive. So it didn’t become popular and was forgotten for obvious reasons.

From then until oil crisis in 1973 all debate about solar energy was limited strictly to scientific circles. Although in 1921 Albert Einstein received Nobel Prize for his researches on principle of photoelectric effects on electrical generation, it didn’t bring any practical breakout. Even when in 1953 Bell Laboratories created a silicon based solar cell that was able to create some electricity it was still much to expensive to become popular.

Yet after 1973 solar panels were developed rapidly. That was mainly thanks to huge sums governments put into researches that led to more efficiency and lower costs of these technologies. Now it’s available for many people even in the form of  solar-panels-home-systems.