Solar Energy Defined
Solar Energy is a type of renewable energy, derived from the sun’s radiation and heat. It can convert energy from the sun to generate both electricity and heat. Both of which can be generated through the use of Solar Panels.
How does Solar Energy Work?
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 roof tops is 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 everyday. In its simplest form, we use solar energy to dry our clothes, our food and to keep us warm. But with technology 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
- Passive Solar
- Solar thermal
- Concentrated solar power
- Solar PV (Photovoltaics)
The Types Of Solar Energy Explained
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. Meaning 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 solar may not be viable.
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 amount of solar panels required to offset your energy bill completely.
To find out if you are eligible for solar, 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 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 the course of 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.