Author Box
Articles Categories
All Categories
Articles Resources

The Why and How of Solar Power

June 01, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 113

Solar power is power generated by converting sunlight into electricity. We all know that if you hold a magnifying lens in direct sunlight over bits of paper, it ignites. That, in simple terms is solar power. Since ancient times humans have harnessed solar energy in some form or the other but it is only in recent years that technology has been used to do so and this technology is constantly evolving, to make large-scale production viable.

Solar technologies channel energy from the sun to provide power for various applications in homes, offices and industries, which are currently run on electricity generated from fossil fuels or thermal power. Even though solar energy seems inexhaustible, the power generation using this source has been rather limited.

In the US, solar energy meets only 1% of its energy needs. Although sunlight is free and limitless, the only possibility of it being totally unavailable is if the sun sets permanently, which is most unlikely. Harnessing, collecting and transmitting the energy is, presently, very expensive. Currently, energy generated by solar power is twice as expensive as that generated from fossil fuels. However, with advancements in technology in this field, the costs are expected to come down and make solar power generation a viable alternative.

There are various methods of converting sunlight into solar energy. Photovoltaics (PV) directly convert sunlight into electricity whereas Concentrated Solar Power or CSP, using mirrors or lenses with systems that track and cause a large area of sunlight to be focused into a small beam and then using photovoltaics converts this indirectly into electricity. Another method of conversion is creating hydrogen fuel by splitting water using artificial photosynthesis.

Concentrated solar power plants (CSPs) for commercial production were developed in the 1980s and the US has been the lead player. The 354 MW Solar Energy Generation Systems in the Mojave Desert of California is the largest CSP in the world. The largest one in the Middle East, in Abu Dhabi, is slated to be operational in 2012. Many other countries are also using CSPs or are in the process of building these to address their clean energy requirements. The world's largest photovoltaic plant is in Canada that produces 97MW of electricity.

Despite the energy from the sun being clean, yet solar technologies produce some negative environmental impact, in the energy collection stage. The danger lies in the manufacture of the solar panels that are required to collect and store the energy as these are likely to produce greenhouse gases. Arsenic and cadmium are used in the manufacture of these panels and the disposal of these panels after their lifetime is another cause for worry, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, a non-profit science advocacy group in the United States. Another problem is the large tracts of land that would be required to set up the solar panels for large-scale production. But these problems are not insurmountable.

In the final analysis, a clean alternate source of energy, that is renewable, is the need of the hour, as our dependence only on energy from fossil fuels is short-sighted, given its limited supply.

Source: EzineArticles
Was this Helpful ?

 
0
 
0
 
Rate this Article
 vote(s)
Feedback
Print
Re-Publish

Article Tags:

Solar Power

,

Solar Technology

,

Solar Power Plant

,

Solar Energy

Rather than blame others, take personal responsibility to reduce our dependence on oil by using less of petroleum derived products. Repeatedly we are hearing about oil spills, rising prices on oil

By: Kyles Humphrey l News & Society > Energy l October 17, 2012 lViews: 236

Traditional analysis of debt and deleveraging (the process where households, corporations and governments are forced to reduce their overall debt) is often biased and incomplete. Opinions of how to

By: Ben Esget l News & Society > Economics l August 11, 2012 lViews: 296

In this high paced digital age, it's easy to become displaced from the people and places around you. However, it's important to support your community and your neighbors who live in it, and work hard

By: Monai Gupta l News & Society > Politics l July 11, 2012 lViews: 334

In a bold, unpredictable move, President Obama declared on Monday his desire to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for all but the highest-income earners, by which he means anyone richer than Al and Peg

By: Scott Spiegel l News & Society > Politics l July 10, 2012 lViews: 228

Bipartisanship isn't always sweet. Especially when it comes to the politics of sugar.

By: Larry M. Elkin l News & Society > Politics l July 09, 2012 lViews: 237

In a direct reflection of the financial market's currently unsteady nature, the wholesale energy markets tumbled to a four-month low at the end of May. The bearish market was thanks to the continuing

By: Graham N Paul l News & Society > Energy l July 09, 2012 lViews: 223

Rather than blame others, take personal responsibility to reduce our dependence on oil by using less of petroleum derived products. Repeatedly we are hearing about oil spills, rising prices on oil

By: Kyles Humphreyl News & Society > Energyl October 17, 2012 lViews: 236

In a direct reflection of the financial market's currently unsteady nature, the wholesale energy markets tumbled to a four-month low at the end of May. The bearish market was thanks to the continuing

By: Graham N Paull News & Society > Energyl July 09, 2012 lViews: 223

Rumours are circulating that the government is to review its much-lauded 'Green Deal', after warnings that it could "waste" between 2-3 billion GBP. Not true say the government, with the DECC swiftly

By: Graham N Paull News & Society > Energyl July 09, 2012 lViews: 187

A lot of people work in some kind of office environment, whether it is a small business or a large corporate center with thousands of people in a single facility. Whenever there are people in any

By: Joel Rubinl News & Society > Energyl July 06, 2012 lViews: 183

Oil demand in India is set to grow in the next five years and beyond, driven by demand for its exports and a fast growing domestic market. India's significant indigenous oil supplies have been

By: Praneet Bakshil News & Society > Energyl July 03, 2012 lViews: 201

Utility scale solar power pertains to large power plants and solar farms to generate and supply power to many users. It is enjoyed by US states like Nevada, Arizona and California and in southern

By: Mark G Andersonl News & Society > Energyl July 03, 2012 lViews: 190

Energy in itself has no color so what do we mean by 'green energy?' There seems to be no single or universal definition of 'green energy' but it has various interpretations. Is it called green

By: Stanley Varghesel News & Society > Energyl June 13, 2012 lViews: 164

Energy sources that can be continually replenished are called renewable sources. The source of energy from the sun, wind, water and biomass are renewable energy sources as against fossil fuels like

By: Stanley Varghesel News & Society > Energyl June 10, 2012 lViews: 144

What is green energy? In simple terms, it is energy that is generated without using materials that are unsustainable, does not cause environmental destruction and meets the needs of the present

By: Stanley Varghesel Business > Innovationl June 06, 2012 lViews: 186

In the race to find alternate sources of energy, that is clean, sustainable and renewable, wind power has caught the attention of scientists, industrialists and governments. Green technology has

By: Stanley Varghesel Business > Innovationl June 06, 2012 lViews: 171

The very idea of retirement is of modern times, as prior to the 19th century, a retirement plan was unheard of. In those times, people worked till they became physically unable or died. Higher life

By: Stanley Varghesel Investing > Retirement Planningl June 01, 2012 lViews: 92

Discuss this Article

comments powered by Disqus