Solar Power: What is it?

The sun is what shapes the seasons we experience on earth; the sun’s energy is what allows all creatures and vegetation to survive on our planet. Essentially, without the sun, there would be no life on earth. So, the sun does a lot for us in our daily lives and for our survival. But the sun can also be used as an alternative source of energy as well. This renewable source of energy is known as solar power/solar energy.

So, How Does Solar Power Work?
The sun’s light contains energy. When light hits an object, it generates heat. But when light hits certain material, the energy converts into an electrical current, which can then be harnessed for power. Old technology used large crystals made of silicon, which produces an electrical current when struck by light. But this method and material proved to be costly. Newer materials have been developed that use smaller, less expensive crystals that can be shaped into flexible films.

What do People Use Solar Power for?
It can be used to heat or cool your home, power appliances, and even heat your pool or spa. People use solar for a variety of reasons. But mainly, people use solar energy because of its little impact on the global climate.

Are Solar Energy Systems Expensive?
Solar energy accounts for a small portion of the U.S.’ total electricity generation because it is more costly than alternatives such as coal. Solar power is approximately five times as costly as to what people pay for the current that comes out of their current outlets.

Will Solar Power Ever Become our Main Energy Source?
Since solar power relies on the light from the sun to generate electricity, cooler climates cannot harness as much energy that is produced in hotter climates. Also, material is costly to manufacture. In order for solar power to be worth the investment, researchers need to develop inexpensive material that can be produced on a mass scale.

Should I Invest in Solar Power?
It is always important to perform a cost analysis. Take into account the pros and cons. Yes, it is better for environment and is free reusable energy–but consider the cost of installation, material, and maintenance, and how it will be used in your home.

Cited from: Locke, Sussanah. “How Does Solar Power Work?.” Scientific American . N.p., 20 Oct. 2008. Web. 23 Aug. 2013.