Alternative Energy

What is Solar Power?

Over the past several years, governments, private organizations, and citizens worldwide have become more cognizant of humanity’s impact on the environment. There has been a concerted effort to combat climate change, reduce emissions of harmful substances into the atmosphere, and replace fossil fuels with sustainable alternatives.

While several viable solutions could be used to sustainably generate electricity for consumers and businesses alike, solar power is one of the most accessible.

While the sun’s energy can be converted into thermal (heat) energy, it is most often converted into electrical energy. Solar power is electricity generated by directly harnessing the sun’s light energy. Solar energy is, therefore, abundant, widely accessible, and represents the cleanest form of renewable energy.

The specific type of energy used to generate solar power is known as “electromagnetic radiation.” While every inch of the Earth’s surface is exposed to electromagnetic radiation from the sun, the specific intensity varies based on location. Typically, areas nearer to the equator are exposed to a greater concentration of electromagnetic radiation.

How Is Solar Power Generated?

Two types of solar power technologies can capture the sun’s energy — concentrating solar power (CSP) systems and photovoltaics (PV). Most are more familiar with the latter, as it is the technology used in solar panels.

Solar panels are installed in an area exposed to direct sunlight. The PV cells within the panel absorb the sun’s electromagnetic radiation. This energy creates a series of electrical charges that flow through the panel’s PV cells, which then route the electricity into a battery or directly into the local power grid so consumers can use it.

CSP systems function much differently, using mirrors to concentrate and reflect sunlight onto a set of receivers. The receivers collect the sun’s electromagnetic radiation and convert this energy into heat, which can then be stored for future use or used immediately to generate electricity.

Whereas PV systems are scalable and can be purchased by individual consumers, CSPs are typically only found in massive power plants, as the system of mirrors and receivers required consumes a large amount of space.

The Benefits of Solar Power

Investing in solar power technology provides several benefits for both homeowners and businesses.

By installing solar panels at their residence, homeowners can:

  • Increase their home’s value
  • Decrease or eliminate their utility bill
  • Reduce their greenhouse gas emissions

Businesses can reap even more benefits by leveraging solar technology. Specifically, solar panels allow a business to:

  • Decrease its utility costs
  • Reduce its overall operating expenses
  • Demonstrate its commitment to sustainability and environmental conservation
  • Enhance its brand image
  • Attract new clients
  • Improve its standing with existing customers

Not only do solar panels reduce energy usage and lower the cost of energy, but it also offers tax credits and rebates to reduce the overall cost. Solar panels don’t require a significant amount of exposure to sunlight to provide energy, which allows them to be useful in climates with cloudy weather conditions throughout the year.

The panels are designed to continue to draw energy on cloudy days. They also don’t require any water to operate, making them ideal to use in climates that experience droughts.

Use Cases for Solar Energy

Solar energy technology is a versatile, sustainable power source. This technology can be used to power a variety of different devices. When deployed at scale, PV panels can power an entire home or commercial building.

Businesses and homeowners can also use solar technology to power ventilation equipment, exterior lighting, and other devices. When these devices are powered by solar technology, they do not need to be tied to a building’s electrical grid. Instead, each device can be powered by its own panel or set of panels.

When it comes to incorporating solar technology into your business, the possibilities are endless. Investing in solar technology will pay dividends for your brand image, reduce overhead operating expenses, and help you contribute to the fight against climate change.