What Is Solar Energy?
Every hour the sun beams onto Earth more than enough energy to satisfy global energy needs for an entire year. Solar energy is the technology used to harness the sun’s energy and make it useable. Today, the technology produces less than one tenth of one percent of global energy demand.
Simply put, solar power is energy from the sun that is converted into thermal or electrical energy. Solar energy is the most abundant, cleanest renewable energy source available. Modern technology harnesses this energy for a variety of uses: generating electricity, providing light or heat/air, and heating water for domestic, commercial, and industrial use.
Solar power generates electricity with no global warming pollution, no fuel costs, and no risks of fuel price spikes, and has the potential to help move the country toward cleaner, reliable, and affordable sources of electricity.
How Solar Energy Works
Solar panels have many joined photovoltaic (PV) cells, commonly seen on calculators. These cells are most often made from silicon semiconductors.
When sunlight strikes the cell, a certain portion of light is absorbed within the semiconductor. When the sunlight is absorbed the semiconductor knocks a portion of the lights electrons loose.
PV cells all have an electric field that forces the free electrons to move in one direction. This flow of electrons creates an electrical current. To light up your kitchen, your solar wiring simply taps into this current.
Solar Energy Applications
Solar energy can be used for many different purposes. It can be used to generate electricity in places that lack a grid connection, for distilling water in Africa, or even to power satellites in space.
Solar power is also known as “The People`s Power”, which refers to how easily deployable solar panels are at the consumer level (both photovoltaic and solar thermal).
Solar Cells are used in a wide variety of applications:
- Toys, watches, calculators
- Electric Fences
- Remote Lighting Systems
- Water Pumping
- Water Treatment
- Emergency Power
- Portable Power Supplies
Benefits of Solar Panels for Residences & Commercial
Solar energy is not only sustainable, it is renewable and this means that we will never run out of it. It is about as natural a source of power as it is possible to generate electricity.
The creation of solar energy requires little maintenance. Once the solar panels have been installed and are working at maximum efficiency there is only a small amount of maintenance required each year to ensure they are in working order.
They are a silent producer of energy. There is absolutely no noise made from photovoltaic panels as they convert sunlight into usable electricity.
There are continual advancements in solar panel technology, which are increasing the efficiency and lowering the cost of production, thus making it even more cost effective.
Tax credits, rebates, and other support in leading states can cut the total costs of a rooftop system to under $10,000, though many solar customers are paying little or nothing up front by utilizing solar leases or power purchase agreements, which provide electricity from the system over a long period at attractive fixed rates.
Solar Power Companies- How Solar Power Companies Can Assist
Certain solar companies simply manufacturer solar panels and/or solar cells. You may be able to buy these from the company and either install the panels yourself or have someone else install them, but this isn’t how the typical consumer goes solar.
Solar companies that only install solar panels will likely purchase the panels on your behalf before installation and include the cost in the installation price. Local and regional solar companies often fit this category.
Some solar companies that install and provide the solar panels will even take care of the financing and maintenance, and arrange incentive benefits. Full-service companies usually offer solar leasing because the company owns the solar power systems, but even companies that allow you to purchase your solar panels will also offer these services.
In addition to offering everything that full-service companies offer, vertically integrated solar companies also manufacture the solar panels and solar cells. The vertical integration may result in a better deal for customers, but it also means that the company is tied to its own specific technology – for better or worse.
Some solar companies don’t actually deal with the hardware or installation at all. These companies give consumers a sense of how much money they can save going solar, how much it costs, different options for going solar, available incentives, and more. Lead-generation companies take your information and pass it on to one or more solar installers on your behalf.