What is solar energy?
Solar energy is the energy from the sun in the form of light and heat.
For billions of year, the sun has been producing solar energy and according to some scientists, the sun will continue to produce solar energy at least for the next five billion years. This is good news because the whole world seems to be falling in love with this cleanest form of energy today.
How do we use solar energy?
We can harness solar energy using various technologies.
The most common one is solar panel that uses photovoltaic technology to convert solar energy into electricity. If you want to know more about photovoltaic, I have written a separate blog about this.
Similarly, solar water heater is a common rooftop system used to heat water using solar energy. Unlike solar power panel, solar hot water panels do not have photovoltaic solar cells embedded in the panel. Also known as thermal collector, inside these hot water panels are tubes that are used to either circulate the water or heat transfer fluid between the water tank and the panels (or thermal collector). Circulating the water or the fluid enough times through the collector will eventually heat the water.
You don’t necessarily need a technology to harness solar energy. And you probably already know that. You may have designed a house in a certain way to favor sunlight, or you may have used material such as clay brick because their thermal mass is more favorable. That’s harvesting solar energy without any technology. It is also referred as passive solar.
Solar energy is Clean
Just like wind and hydro, solar energy is also one of the cleanest forms of energy because transformation of this energy into usable electric current doesn’t pollute our environment like fossil fuel does.
Solar energy is Renewable
Solar energy is also called a renewable source of energy simply because the resource, sun, doesn’t disappear (or at least guaranteed for the next five billion years).
Solar energy is a renewable source that is clean and free.
Other advantages of using clean, renewable and free solar energy
Today, people living in every part of the world are taking advantage of solar energy. They put solar panels or solar hot water system on their rooftop mainly for two reasons: save money on electricity bill and save the planet by using less of coal or other dirty energy source like gas and oil.
Popularly known as the Paris Climate Deal, in December 2015, 196 countries committed to net zero emissions (100% clean energy source like solar, wind, hydro) by year 2050 A.D to stop the accelerating climate change. Even partially offsetting home energy usage by solar, you too will be leaving a positive impact, before it’s too late to save the planet.
Solar energy saves the planet and the wallet.
Solar energy for home
Whether you want solar hot water system to heat water or you want solar PV panel system for your home to generate your own electricity, both will reduce your conventional electricity consumption from the grid (which is 85% coal in Australia). Less electricity from the grid means smaller monthly bill. That savings is seen as a “return” on your solar investment. In few years, your investment will pay off.
Due to wide acceptance of solar power system and increasing demand and supply, the prices have fallen rapidly over the last few years. There is also a government subsidy available if you want to purchase solar panels for your home.
In any case, you should carefully assess your solar power need before going out for shopping. Here is my detail post about Solar Buyer’s guide
Solar panels pay off themselves by saving money on your electricity bill.
There you go…about what solar energy is and how we can take advantage of it. If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to contact me below or leave comment.