Solar Energy

What is Solar Energy? 

Solar: Sun Light/Heat 

Solar power is ultimate energy from the Sun that is causes chemical reaction, and converted thermal or electrical energy. Solar energy is the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source available. Solar energy is a vibrant renewable energy, which is aimed at achieving energy security, energy access and reducing the carbon footprints of the economy. Solar technologies can harness this energy for a variety of uses, including generating electricity, providing light or a comfortable interior environment, and heating water for domestic, commercial, or industrial use. 

Solar Energy

The energy from sun responsible for sustaining life on the earth. It is a renewable source of energy, non-polluting,available almost everywhere on earth and is affordable. 

The term “Solar Energy” refers to radiation energy i.e. light and heat emitted  from the sun. Some amount of this energy is lost before it reaches the earth surface, as it travels over 93 million miles km from the sun through various 
layers of the atmosphere. 

Earth Heat Budget

About 51% of the solar energy is absorbed by the land and oceans. The amount of solar energy (insolation) available at a particular location on the earth’s surface varies depending on the latitude, earth’s tilt, and time of the day and year.

What is the History of Solar Energy?

Solar technology isn’t new. Its history spans from the 7th Century B.C. to today. We started out concentrating the sun’s heat with glass and mirrors to light fires. Today, we have everything from solar-powered buildings to solar powered vehicles. 

History of Solar Energy
History of Solar Energy

What is the Solar Technology? 

Solar technologies convert sunlight into electrical energy through Photovoltaic (PV) Panels or through Mirrors that Concentrate solar radiation or through Solar Heating & Cooling (SHC) . This energy can be used to generate electricity or be stored in batteries or thermal storage. These three are most useful solar technology :

1. Photovoltaic Panels (PV): 

Photovoltaic Cells is utilized in solar panels. When the sun shines onto a solar panel, energy from the sunlight is absorbed by the PV cells in the panel. This energy creates electrical charges that move in response to an internal electrical field in the cell, causing electricity generation. These panels can be used in small systems or large plants to generate energy from the biggest renewable energy source; Sun.

2. Concentrating Solar Power (CSP): 

It is use mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto receivers that collect solar energy and convert it to heat, which can then be used to produce electricity or stored for later use. CSP is used primarily in very large power plants. 

3. Solar Heating & Cooling (SHC): 

It is using the heat generated by the sun to provide space or water heating. Which can be used for traditional heating applications to satisfied human needs.

Solar Photovoltaic Power Potential by Country: 

According to World Bank report through the Global Solar Atlas: 

  • The potential for clean, carbon-free electricity generation from solar photovoltaic (PV) sources in most countries dwarfs their current electricity demand. 
  • Around 20% of the global population lives in 70 countries boasting excellent conditions for solar PV. High-potential countries tend to have low seasonality in solar PV output, meaning that the resource is relatively constant between different months of the year. 
  • A new report provides data on the solar PV power potential for countries and regions. 


Solar Energy Potential Country
Global map showing practical solar energy potential after excluding for physical, environmental and other factors...

  • The data make it possible to evaluate or compare virtually any site, region, or country. 
  • Perhaps surprisingly, the difference in average practical potential between countries with the highest potential (e.g. Namibia) and the lowest (e.g. Ireland) is slightly less than a factor of two. 
  • In total, 93% of the global population lives in countries that have an average daily solar PV potential between 3.0 and 5.0 kWh/kWp. 



What are the Benefits of Solar Energy? 

Environmental Benefits: 

  • Solar energy is the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source available. 
  • Solar energy can be harnessed in all areas of the world and is available every day.  
  • Solar energy will be accessible as long as we have the sun, therefore sunlight will be available to us for at least 5 billion years when according to scientists the sun is going to die. 

Economic Benefits: 

  • Solar system will reduce the electricity bill. 
  • A business using commercial solar panels this switch can have huge benefits because the large system size can cover large chunks of your energy bills. 
  • To generate more electricity than you use through your solar panel. There is also a possibility to receive payments for the surplus energy that you export back to the grid through the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG).  
  • Solar energy systems generally require low maintenance costs. Most reliable solar panel manufacturers offer 20-25 years warranty. 
  • There are no moving parts, there is no wear and tear. 
  • After covering the initial cost of the solar system, you can expect very little spending on maintenance and repair work. 

Technology Development: 

  • Technology in the solar power industry is constantly advancing and improvements will intensify in the future.  
  • Innovations in quantum physics and nanotechnology can potentially increase the effectiveness of solar panels and double, or even triple, the electrical input of the solar power systems. 
  • Nevertheless, solar technologies are constantly developing, so it is safe to assume that prices will go down in the future. 


Other Benefits: 

  • Solar can generate electricity (photovoltaics) or heat (solar thermal). Solar energy can be used to produce electricity in areas without access to the energy grid, to distil water in regions with limited clean water supplies and to power satellites in space. 
  • Solar energy can also be integrated into the materials used for buildings. Not long ago Sharp introduced transparent solar energy windows. 



What are the Challenges of Solar Energy? 

  • The initial cost of purchasing a solar system is fairly high. This includes paying for solar panels, inverter, batteries, wiring, and the installation.  
  • The inverter is usually the only part that needs to be changed after 5-10 years because it is continuously working to convert solar energy into electricity and heat (solar PV vs. solar thermal).  
  • Apart from the inverter, the cables also need maintenance to ensure your solar power system runs at maximum efficiency. 
  • Although solar energy can still be collected during cloudy and rainy days, the efficiency of the solar system drops.  
  • Solar energy cannot be collected during the night. 
  • On the other hand, if you also require your water heating solution to work at night or during wintertime, thermodynamic panels are an alternative to consider. 
  • Solar Energy Storage is expensive. 
  • Solar PV panels require a lot of space and some roofs are not big enough to fit the number of solar panels that you would like to have. 
  • Transportation and installation of solar systems have been associated with the emission of greenhouse gases. 
  • There are also some toxic materials and hazardous products used during the manufacturing process of solar photovoltaic systems, which can indirectly affect the environment. 


What are the Applications of Solar Energy? 

  • The sun creates two main types of energy – light and heat – that we can harness for many activities ranging from photosynthesis in plants to creating electricity with photovoltaic (PV) cells to heating water and food. 
  • Uses for solar energy extend to water heating systems. Most solar water heating solutions create hot water that is consumed inside the home. 
  • Solar ventilation solutions such as solar attic fans can reduce the burden of HVAC by helping to cool your home during the summer. 
  • Portable solar PV chargers can keep our personal electric devices charged on the go. 
  • Solar-powered vehicles may be the future, with existing applications including buses, trains, airplanes, and race cars built by students in Australia and the U.S. A fully solar-powered car is even slated for commercial release in 2019. 



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