Solar power can be defined as the power obtained by harnessing the energy of the sun’s rays. In other words, solar power is the conversion of solar energy from sunlight into electricity, either directly or indirectly. Solar energy is radiant light and heat from the sun that is harnessed using a range of ever-evolving technologies, such as solar heating, photovoltaics, solar thermal energy, solar architecture, molten salt power plants and artificial photosynthesis. The early development of solar technologies starting in the 1860s was driven by an expectation that coal would soon become scarce. Charles Fritts installed the world’s first rooftop photovoltaic solar array, on a New York City roof in 1884. Solar energy is the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source available and the U.S has some of the richest solar resources in the world.
HOW THE CONCEPT OF SOLAR ENERGY DEVELOPED? :
Solar energy is not something new. The earliest use of solar power included focusing the sun’s energy through a magnifying glass to start fires for cooking. By the 3rd century B.C, Greeks and Romans bounced sunlight off of ” burning mirrors ” to light sacred torches for religious ceremonies. In the 1970s solar power was tested by the Greek navy with the help of an experiment. In 1839, French Physicist Edmond Bacquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect while experimenting with a cell made of metal electrodes in a conducting solution. He noted that the cell produced more electricity when it was exposed to light.
Almost half a century after the photovoltaic effect’s discovery, in 1883, American investor Charles Fritz created the first working Selenium solar cell. This solar cell was a major precursor to the technology used today. Albert Einstein had an important role to play in bringing the world’s attention to solar energy. In 1905, Einstein published a paper on the photoelectric effect and how light carries energy. This generated more attention and acceptance for solar power on a broader scale.
ADVANTAGES OF SOLAR ENERGY :
There are several advantages of solar energy. Some of the most important are
• Renewable energy source – Among all the benefits of solar energy, the most important thing is that the solar energy is a truly renewable energy source. It can be harnessed in all areas of the world and is available every day. Unlike other sources of energy, we cannot run out of solar energy.
• Reduces electricity bills – Since some of your energy needs will be catered to by electricity generated by your solar system, naturally your electricity bill will drop. How much energy you can save on your bill will be dependent on the size of the solar system installed in your place.
• Low maintenance cost – Solar energy systems generally don’t require a lot of maintenance. You only need to keep them relatively clean. Therefore cleaning them a couple of times per year will do the job. For that purpose you can always rely on specialised cleaning companies. Most reliable solar panel manufacturers offer 20-25 years warranty.
• Diverse Applications – Solar energy has many applications. You can generate electricity or heat. 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 supply and to power satellites in space. Moreover, it can be integrated into the materials used for building.
• Ever evolving technology – Technology in the solar power industry is constantly advancing and improvements will intensify in the future. Innovation in quantum physics and nano technology can potentially increase the effectiveness of solar panels manifold.