The extensive use of non-renewable sources such as oil, gas and coal is escalating at a shocking rate. That is why more people are now exploring renewable sources of energy such as solar energy. It is harvested from the sun using a wide variety of advanced technologies such as solar heating and cooling, solar thermal energy, photovoltaics, solar architecture and artificial photosynthesis.
Solar energy readily available in large quantities makes it a more practical and viable alternative source of electricity. Photovoltaics is used to produce electricity by converting sunlight into electric current. Solar thermal power plants also make use of solar energy to generate electricity. The heat produced is used to drive steam turbines that generate electricity. These two technologies are examples of active solar technology.
Solar heating and cooling technology uses the energy from the sun to provide space heating, cooling, hot water and pool heating for commercial, residential and industrial places. This technology is affordable to many, creates jobs for people and rids the need to use electricity generated by fossil fuels. The solar architecture incorporates the use of solar panels and passive solar buildings designs which involve constructing windows, floors, and walls in such a way that they absorb and store solar energy in the form of heat. This energy is expelled during the hot season and retained during the cold season. In artificial photosynthesis, energy from the sun is captured and stored in the chemical bonds of a solar fuel (a fuel generated from sunlight).
The most important fact of solar energy is that it is completely free. Solar energy is always renewable because the sun is not likely to be depleted. It is also environmentally-friendly as it does not pollute the air, environment or deplete any natural resources. Solar energy can also be used anywhere in the world as long as they have the supporting technology and installation. It is easy to install solar panels and they are fast becoming common features in many homesteads and commercial buildings today.
Determining solar energy cost depends on the amount of electricity you use in your house, the roof area available to install solar panels and how many sunlight hours your location gets in a day. Solar panel prices vary depending on the building, type and brand of panels used and the installation company. The prices of solar panels are priced by manufacturers based on their efficiency.
Though solar energy has a host of advantages, it is not without any drawbacks. Appliances relying on solar energy can only work during the day because that is when there is daylight. At night, you may have to resort to other alternative sources of energy if you do not have storage devices for excess solar energy. The solar technologies are also very costly and require large pieces of land for setting up.