Basics of Solar Power

By: Paulwoods
Solar power is an energy source which is renewable, totally free of charge, non-polluting and always available. Experts have been experimenting for a long time how to make the best and most efficient use of it. Here are some facts about how solar power is being used at the moment.

Solar power has a variety of different uses. It can be used as a direct means of heat, for example heating water. It can be converted to electricity via photo voltaic cells. Using the solar power directly is often termed 'passive solar' whereas converting it into electricity is known as 'active solar'. The weak form in which we receive solar energy can be a limiting factor. To make the best use possible of solar power we need to discover how to harness it and then make it concentrated.

Solar power has been used in its passive state for many centuries. Examples of this include heating water, lighting fires and drying wood. In places where sunlight is available for most days of the year, solar water heaters are popular. There are also solar power plants which can concentrate the energy of the sun and generate electricity in large amounts. Power plants like these are especially economical and useful in out of the way places where conventional electricity is not always available. Even space craft and satellites make use of solar energy.

In recent years, there has been a lot of interest in using solar power to power motor vehicles. This however is still in the experimental stages. The problem is that a large amount of power is needed to supply the car's engine and this would mean large solar panels. Large solar panels on a typical car are fragile and their size would also make them impractical. When the sun is not shining, these cars could only run for a short time, meaning that solar power is not yet able to run such vehicles. Also, the weather is not completely predictable and nobody wants their vehicle to come to a sudden stop with no way of restarting it until the sun decides to come out.

Solar power demand is on the up but right now the costs prevent it from being a widely used energy means. The technology is available but the cost of converting the solar power into energy is too high. Fuel costs are also rising however which means that solar power will be a viable alternative if this continues. Present day fuels also have an environmental impact and people are becoming more aware of this and want to find environmentally friendly alternatives using clean energy. Manufacturers will find it more feasible to produce solar powered devices because of this rising demand.
Science
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 

» More on Science