Solar Energy Defined
Solar Energy is a type of renewable energy, derived from the sun’s radiation and heat. Through the use of solar energy, we can convert this energy to generate both electricity and heat. Both of which can be generated through the use of Solar Panels.
Solar Energy works by capturing sunlight, also known as electromagnetic radiation, and turning it into forms of energy. Solar technologies such as Solar PV Panels, can capture the sun’s radiation and turn it into useful forms of energy. In this instance, green electricity. While the amount of solar radiation can vary depending on location, where there is sun, there can be solar. Solar panels installed on rooftops are probably the most familiar way we know solar energy to be used. However, there are many everyday items that are also solar-powered.
Examples of Solar Energy
As an infinite power source, there are infinite examples of solar energy that we utilise every day. In its simplest form, we use solar energy to dry our clothes, our food and to keep us warm. But with technological advancements, we now use solar energy to power our homes, heat our homes and water, and even charge our electric cars.
Types of Solar Energy
The term solar energy is used to define any method of collecting sunlight and turning it into a form of energy. There are two main types of solar energy, Passive and Active. Passive refers to the use of solar energy without the need for mechanical devices. Whereas Active solar energy is solar energy which is collected, stored and distributed through technologies.
Overall Types of Solar Energy include:
- Passive Solar
- Solar thermal
- Concentrated solar power
- Solar PV (Photovoltaics)
Although even Wind Energy can also be considered a type of solar energy, these are the main types of solar energy we consider.
The Types Of Solar Energy Explained
Passive solar energy, unlike active, harnesses the sun without the use of mechanical devices. For example, using natural lighting in order to heat our homes. In an average house in the UK, passive solar contributes 14% of the heating demand. Passive solar is often the most taken-for-granted type of Solar energy.
Solar thermal energy utilises the heat from the sun in order to power heating applications, such as providing hot water or heating swimming pools. In the same way that Solar PV panels can be used both domestically and commercially, so can Solar thermal panels.
Concentrated Solar Power is a type of solar thermal energy, that is used to generate electricity. This type of solar energy uses mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight towards a receiver that converts the energy into heat. This heat is then converted into electricity which is used primarily on a large scale.
First used in space, before becoming popular in everyday devices such as watches and calculators, Solar PV is probably the most recognised type of solar energy. In which Solar Photovoltaic (PV) cells convert the sun’s energy into usable electricity.
The Advantages of Solar Energy
As more and more homes are deciding to be powered by solar energy, it is clear that there are many reasons to switch to solar energy. Some advantages of solar energy include:
With energy prices seeing a record increase of 54% as of April 2022, many customers will start struggling to pay their energy bills. However, when you choose to power your home using solar energy, you are choosing to rely less on the National Grid and more on an energy source that cannot be owned or taxed.
Probably the most significant advantage of solar energy is that it is a renewable energy source. That can be harnessed from all areas of the world, abundant in nature. Unlike gas or oil, solar energy cannot run out and doesn’t emit any toxic gases like carbon. This means that Solar energy is better for our homes and health.
As you can tell from our examples of solar energy and the types of solar energy available, solar can have diverse applications. From solar-powered watches to solar flood lights, and even solar-powered cars – the applications for solar energy is endless.
The Disadvantages of Solar Energy
So after looking at the advantages of solar energy, it is now time to explore the disadvantages of solar energy.
One of the main put-offs and disadvantages of Solar energy, is the high initial costs. The equipment required to use solar energy won’t come cheap, and neither will the installation fees. However, with solar financing options, new government grants coming out yearly, and a steady decline in prices due to technology development, I wouldn’t rule out the feasibility of solar energy just yet.
When it comes down to generating solar energy, location, and space matter. Not every property has access to sunlight in order to generate solar energy. Some properties will have shading, or be located in low irradiance locations which means you may not be eligible for solar.
Another problem you may experience is not having enough space. The more solar energy you want to produce, the larger the system you will need. For example, Solar panels require a lot of roof space, and some roofs are not large enough to fit the number of solar panels required to offset your energy bill completely.
To find out if your roof is suitable for solar panels, check out our blog to learn more.
Despite beliefs solar energy can still be generated during the winter, and on cloudy, rainy and even snowy days. However, the efficiency of a solar panel system will drop during certain times of the year, seeing a lower solar production in winter months and on cloudy days. What’s more, of course, solar energy can’t be generated during the night when there is no sunlight. However, it can be stored during the day to be used later at night thanks to technology advancement of solar battery storage.
Although the pollution associated with solar energy is far less compared to other types of energy systems, it still exists. During manufacturing and transporting parts for active solar energy systems, greenhouse gases are emitted. Of course, these emissions are then balanced out once the solar energy system is installed.
Using Solar Energy to Power Your Home Or Business
Now you know what solar energy is, and the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy, is it now time to consider using solar energy to power your home. If you are a UK business or homeowner considering making a change to solar energy, our team of leading solar panel installers can help. Take a minute to complete our contact form, and receive a free quote and expert advice from our award-winning team.