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Solar Energy

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Solar Energy Meaning

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Solar radiation from the sun that is capable of producing heat, causing a chemical reaction, and producing electricity is called solar energy. It is the most powerful and vast source of energy. The total solar energy incident on the earth's surface is enormously greater than the world's current and future energy requirements. It has the potential to satisfy all future energy needs if it is properly harnessed. Therefore, solar energy is used to generate electricity in the present day. Solar energy is expected to be the most attractive renewable energy source. Solar energy has an inexhaustible supply and it is non-polluting as in the non-renewable sources like coal, natural gas, and petroleum.  


Formation of Solar Energy 

There is a particular process of producing electricity from solar energy. To generate solar electricity, photovoltaic cells are used. When light strikes on these cells, they generate a small electric voltage. The photovoltaic cells are constructed using metal and semiconductors or two semiconductors. The electric voltage generates when the light strikes the junction of the metal and the semiconductor or two semiconductors. One photovoltaic cell can produce about two watts of power. In solar energy plants, many photovoltaic cells are used to generate solar power. A large number of cells are connected in a panel. From a solar panel, hundreds of thousands of kilowatts of power are generated. Thus, solar energy is converted into electricity using a huge number of photovoltaic cells.


Solar Energy Information

The sun is a very powerful energy source, and the sunlight is the largest source of energy received by the earth till now. But due to the huge radial spreading of the radiations from the distant sun, the intensity of the sunlight at the earth's surface is quite low. Moreover, the earth's atmosphere and clouds add to the loss of intensity of sunlight. 50% visible light, 45% of infrared radiation, and small amounts of ultraviolet and other forms of electromagnetic radiations are present in the sunlight, which reaches the earth’s surface. Earth receives 200,000 times of the world's total daily electric generating capacity in the form of solar energy. Although solar energy is free, the huge costs of its collection, conversion, and storage of energy make it difficult to use properly. Solar radiation can also be converted into thermal energy or electrical energy.


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Advantages of Solar Energy

Now, we are going to discuss the advantages of generating and using solar electricity. 

  • Solar Energy is the cleanest form of energy as it is non-polluting and there are no emissions of carbon-dioxide like other renewable energy sources like coal, natural gas, etc.

  • Solar Energy is the amplest amount of energy that is left on earth as long as the sun exists and it is a renewable source of energy.

  • Solar Energy can be stored in batteries and can be changed in other forms like thermal and electrical energy. It can be used in several ways and it is very reliable.

  • It also helps in the reduction of utility costs.

  • Solar Energy is free and can be used by anyone who can trap solar radiations with the necessary technologies.

Disadvantages of Solar Energy

There are some drawbacks of using solar electricity, which are-

  • Due to low solar radiations on winters and cloudy days, the production of solar energy is also less.

  • The initialization and installation costs of the materials required to harness the solar radiations to get solar energy are also high.

  • The space required for the materials to harness solar energy is large.

Facts About Solar Energy

Now, we are going to discuss some interesting facts about solar energy and solar panels. 

  • Solar energy is the only source, which causes zero pollution when generating.

  • The lifetime of a solar panel can be up to 40 years.

  • One hour of sunlight is almost equivalent to one year's energy consumed by the earth.

  • About 174000 terawatt energy hit the earth's surface daily as solar radiation even on cloudy days.

  • According to the research of 2017, solar energy is the cheapest energy source. According to the research of 2019, solar energy is cheaper than fossil fuels. 

  • Each year, solar energy saves about 35 tons of carbon dioxide and about 75 million barrels of oil.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Describe Solar Energy.

Answer: Solar power is the energy that is obtained from the sun and is converted into thermal or electrical energy for further use. Solar energy is the most powerful and abundant renewable energy source available. Solar technologies such as solar panels can generate solar energy for a different use. The uses can be providing light, generating electricity, and heating water for domestic, industrial, or commercial use. The three main ways to generate solar energy are solar heating and cooling, photovoltaics, and concentrating solar power. Electricity is generated directly from sunlight by photovoltaics through an electric process and can be used to power anything like calculators, phones, large commercial businesses, etc. Solar heating and cooling and Concentrating solar power applications use the same mechanism, that is, using the heat generated by the sun to provide water heating or is generally used in running traditional electricity-generating turbines.

2. How Do Solar Panels Work on Rainy Days?

Answer: Solar panels generate electricity with direct sunlight stroke on them. For some days, there is no sun to shine on the solar panels. Though there is no direct sunlight on the panels, there are several ways to generate solar electricity. On cloudy days, solar panels use infrared light and visible light to produce electricity. Though sunlight is not available on rainy or cloudy days, visible light is always available on the day-time even on stormy days. One of the most effective light sources is infrared light, which is even more efficient to reach the solar panels for its long wavelengths. Also, solar panels use diffused and reflected lights to produce electricity on rainy days.