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What is Solar Energy?

Solar energy is the radiant energy produced by the Sun. It is both light and heat. It, along with secondary solar-powered resources such as wind and wave power, account for the majority of the renewable energy on Earth.

The Earth receives 174 petawatts(PW) of solar radiation at the upper atmosphere. 30% of that is reflected back to space and the rest is absorbed by clouds, oceans and land masses. Land surfaces, oceans, and atmosphere absorb solar radiation, which increases their temperature. Warm air containing evaporated water from the oceans rises, causing convection. When the air reaches a high altitude, where the temperature is low, water vapor condenses into clouds and causes rain. The latent heat of water condensation increases convection, producing wind.

Incoming Solar Energy

The total solar energy absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere, oceans and land masses is approximately 3,850,000 exajoules (EJ) per year. In 2002, this was more energy in one hour than the world used in one year. Photosynthesis captures approximately 3,000 EJ per year in biomass. The amount of solar energy reaching the surface of the planet is so vast that in one year it is about twice as much as will ever be obtained from all of the Earth’s non-renewable resources of coal, oil, natural gas, and mined uranium combined.

Energy absorbed by the oceans and land masses keeps the surface at an average temperature of 14°C. Green plants convert solar energy into chemical energy through photosynthesis. Our food supply is completely dependent on solar energy. After plants die, they decay in the Earth, so solar energy can be said to provide the biomass that has created the fossil fuels that we are dependent on.

Humans harness solar energy in many different ways: space heating and cooling, the production of potable water by distillation, disinfection, lighting, hot water, and cooking. The applications for solar energy are only limited by human ingenuity. Solar technologies are characterized as either passive or active depending on the way the energy is captured, converted, and distributed. Active solar techniques use photovoltaic panels and solar thermal collectors to harness the energy. Passive techniques include orienting a building to the Sun, selecting materials with thermal mass properties, and using materials with light dispersing properties.

Our current dependence on fossil fuels is slowly being replaced by alternative energies. Some are fuels that may eventually become useless, but solar energy will never be obsolete, controlled by foreign powers, or run out. Even when the Sun uses up its hydrogen, it will produce useable energy until it explodes. The challenge facing humans is to capture that energy instead of taking the easiest way out by using fossil fuels.

Wind Energy Resource Potential

One of the questions most often asked about wind power is ‘what happens when the wind doesn’t blow’. On a local level, this is mainly a question of grid integration, but in the big picture the wind is a vast untapped resource capable of supplying the world’s electricity needs many times over. In practical terms, in an optimum, clean energy future, wind will be an important part of a mix of renewable energy technologies, playing a more dominant role in some regions than in others. However, it is worthwhile to step back for a minute and consider the enormity of the resource.

Researchers at Stanford University’s Global Climate and Energy Project recently did an evaluation of the global potential of wind power, using five years of data from the US National Climatic Data Center and the Forecasts Systems Laboratory[1]. They estimated that the world’s wind resources can generate more than enough power to satisfy total global energy demand. After collecting measurements from 7,500 surface and 500 balloon-launch monitoring stations to determine global wind speeds at 80 meters above ground level, they found that nearly 13% had an average wind speed above 6.9 meters per second , sufficient for economical wind power generation. Using only 20% of this potential resource for power generation, the report concluded that wind energy could satisfy the world’s electricity demand in the year 2000 seven times over.

North America was found to have the greatest wind power potential, although some of the strongest winds were observed in Northern Europe, whilst the southern tip of South America and the Australian island of Tasmania also recorded significant and sustained strong winds. To be clear, however, there are extraordinarily large untapped wind resources on all continents, and in most countries; and while this study included some island observation points, it did not include offshore resources, which are enormous.

For example, looking at the resource potential in the shallow waters on the continental shelf off the densely populated east coast of the US, from Massachusetts to North Caroline, the average potential resource was found to be approximately four times the total energy demand in what is one of the most urbanized, densely populated and highest-electricity consuming regions of the world.

A study by the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU), “World in Transition – Towards Sustainable Energy Systems” (2003) calculated that the global technical potential for energy production from both onshore and offshore wind installations was 278,000 TWh (Terawatt hours) per year. The report then assumed that only 10–15% of this potential would be realisable in a sustainable fashion, and arrived at a figure of approximately 39,000 TWh supply per year as the contribution from wind energy in the long term, which is more than double current electricity demand.

The WBGU calculations of the technical potential were based on average values of wind speeds from meteorological data collected over a 14 year period (1979–1992). They also assumed that advanced multi-megawatt wind energy converters would be used. Limitations to the potential came through excluding all urban areas and natural features such as forests, wetlands, nature reserves, glaciers and sand dunes. Agriculture, on the other hand, was not regarded as competition for wind energy in terms of land use.

Wind Energy Associations Links
  1.  World Wind Energy Association (WWEA)
  2. Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC)
  3. IEA Wind
  4. WEC Survey of Energy Resources
  5. European Wind Energy Association (EWEA)
  6. American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)
  7. NREL Wind Energy 
  8. EERE Wind Energy

Biofuel Energy

Biofuel energy works by using fuels derived from living or dead biological organisms. It is different from fossil fuels which have been “out” of the carbon cycle for a long time. There are different terms for bio power such as biomass and biofuel and there are also many different biofuels. For example, biodiesel, bioalcohol, biogas, syngas, myco-diesel, oilgae, etc. What they all share in common is that they’re derived from living/recently dead biological sources which are all a part of the carbon cycle.

The carbon cycle consists of four major reservoirs of carbon that are inconnected by pathways of exchange (fire, rain, evaporation, etc). These reservoirs are the atmosphere, the biosphere (defined to include fresh water and non-living/living organic material including soil carbon), the oceans, and the sediments. Check out the environmental impact of bio power as well.

Unlike wind, solar, hydro, etc which all have a dominant method of conversion to useful energy bio power has a lot of emerging technologies none of which are dominant. Biofuels are seperated into four generations currently and we’ll surely see fifth generation soon. Nothing beyond first generation is really being used outside of laboratories or even theory in some cases. The first generation biofuels are the “traditional” biofuels you might probably know about or have at least heard of.

First Generation: Made from seeds, grains, vegetable oil, animal fats, sugars, starch.

  • Biodiesel: Produced from oils or fats using transesterification which results in a liquid similar to diesel. Can be used in any diesel engine.
  • Bioalcohol: Produced through the actions of microorganisms and enzymes through fermentation of sugars, straches, and cellulose.
  • Biogas:  Produced by anaerobic digestion of organic matter using anaerobes. Uses bio waste or energy crops as a process material.
  • Syngas:  Produced through a combined process of pyrolysis, combustion, and gasification. Biofuel is converted to carbon monoxide and energy using pyrolysis. Then a small amount of oxygen is introduced to help with combustion. After that gasification further converts the organic material to hydrogen and more carbon monoxide. The end product is a gas mixture which is more efficient than direct combustion.
  • Solids: Burned directly in stoves or steam engines. Simple example being firewood burned to cook over.

Second Generation: Made from non-food crops, waste biomass.

The main idea behind second generation biofuels is to avoid crops that are consumed by humans. For example, poplar or inedible waste products like citrus peels or sawdust.

Third Generation: Made from algae.

Third generation biofuel is entirely focused on algae. Algae produces 30 times more energy per acre than crops like soybeans. The drawback to this is that algal oil is hard to extract but processes are improving.

Fourth Generation: Genetically engineering organisms to produce fuels.

Producing fuel directly from carbon dioxide and conversion of biodiesel into gasoline using genetically engineered organisms are both examples of fourth generation biofuels.

History of Wind Energy

Since early recorded history, people have been harnessing the energy of the wind. Wind energy propelled boats along the Nile River as early as 5000 B.C. By 200 B.C., simple windmills in China were pumping water, while vertical-axis windmills with woven reed sails were grinding grain in Persia and the Middle East.

Early in the twentieth century, windmills were commonly used across the Great Plains to pump water and to generate electricity.

New ways of using the energy of the wind eventually spread around the world. By the 11th century, people in the Middle East were using windmills extensively for food production; returning merchants and crusaders carried this idea back to Europe. The Dutch refined the windmill and adapted it for draining lakes and marshes in the Rhine River Delta. When settlers took this technology to the New World in the late 19th century, they began using windmills to pump water for farms and ranches, and later, to generate electricity for homes and industry.

Industrialization, first in Europe and later in America, led to a gradual decline in the use of windmills. The steam engine replaced European water-pumping windmills. In the 1930s, the Rural Electrification Administration’s programs brought inexpensive electric power to most rural areas in the United States.

However, industrialization also sparked the development of larger windmills to generate electricity. Commonly called wind turbines, these machines appeared in Denmark as early as 1890. In the 1940s the largest wind turbine of the time began operating on a Vermont hilltop known as Grandpa’s Knob. This turbine, rated at 1.25 megawatts in winds of about 30 mph, fed electric power to the local utility network for several months during World War II.

Early in the twentieth century, windmills were commonly used across the Great Plains to pump water and to generate electricity.

The popularity of using the energy in the wind has always fluctuated with the price of fossil fuels. When fuel prices fell after World War II, interest in wind turbines waned. But when the price of oil skyrocketed in the 1970s, so did worldwide interest in wind turbine generators.

The wind turbine technology R&D that followed the oil embargoes of the 1970s refined old ideas and introduced new ways of converting wind energy into useful power. Many of these approaches have been demonstrated in “wind farms” or wind power plants — groups of turbines that feed electricity into the utility grid — in the United States and Europe.

Today, the lessons learned from more than a decade of operating wind power plants, along with continuing R&D, have made wind-generated electricity very close in cost to the power from conventional utility generation in some locations. Wind energy is the world’s fastest-growing energy source and will power industry, businesses and homes with clean, renewable electricity for many years to come. Continue reading History of Wind Energy

PV Applications & Types

Sunlight is abundant and it is everywhere. More and more emphasis on the use of this abundant energy source has led to the maximum development in this field. The solar energy can be utilized through various means form building concentrating solar power systems, photovoltaic, solar heating systems , solar cars, solar batteries, solar satellite systems , solar updraft power houses and solar lighting systems. Concentrate solar power systems use mirrors and lenses to store light and heat carrying photons. Photovoltaic effect can be used by deploying solar cells. Solar lighting system can be used by designing the architecture to support day lighting procedure. Solar lighting reduces the load and dependence on electric lighting systems. Solar cars contain e solar panels installed on the roof top of the car. These solar panels convert the sunlight into electric charge and furthermore it can be stored into battery to be used later on. Solar updraft power plants are another addition in the application of the solar energy. These power houses are designed to support the heating of air through sunrays. This hot air rises to the tower and then it runs the turbines to support electricity generation. Solar power satellite is an expensive way to produce electricity form unhindered sunlight day and night.

Solar Power Systems

Depending upon your needs and where you live, there are a variety of solar power systems that could work for you.

Solar Power System

Solar Power Systems – Grid-Tied (On Grid)

Most people install grid-tied solar power systems -most often in cities, suburbs and industrial areas where access to utility-generated power is available. You can supplement your solar powered electricity with utility-generated energy if you use more electricity than the solar power system supplies.

When your solar power system produces more electricity you need, you can sell the excess to the PG&E, who delivers the clean, renewable energy to other customers. Consequently, the good you do for the environment doesn’t stop at your home or office. Even neighbors without solar power can draw upon the renewable energy of the sun – while you bank credit to offset the utility-generated power you use at night.

Grid Tied Solar Power System

Solar Power Systems – Grid-Tied with Battery Backup

Solar energy panels combined with batteries and generators for grid-tie applications couple the clean, power supplied by solar panels with the assurance that you will have electricity even during power outages that last for extended periods. During the day, the solar panels generate electricity as needed and charges batteries. If more power is required, or the batteries begin to run low, the natural gas or propane generator kicks in to recharge the batteries. It automatically shuts off when the batteries are fully charged.

Grid Connected with Battery Bank

Solar Power Systems – Off-Grid

Standalone, or off-grid, solar power systems consist of solar panels and a battery bank. They are typically used in rural areas and regions where there is no access to the utility grid. They may also be appropriate where the grid is somewhat close to the site, but expensive to bring in – for example, across a neighbor’s property. We have installed a number of systems with battery back-up where the grid is available but where the homeowner has experienced unreliable power in the past or believes that he/she will be subject to power outages in the future. We have seen a number of property owners install battery back-up system just for philosophical reasons, for the desire to be independent of the grid and the “gaming” to which utility companies and their power suppliers have subjected customers in the past.

It may cost you as high as $50 per foot to bring utility power to your property, after which you’ll continue to pay for power forever. It’s often less expensive to add a solar energy system from the start and be your own power company. You can add the solar power system cost to your mortgage, reducing the combined costs of mortgage and utility bills.

Off Grid System

When your off-grid solar power system produces excess electricity during the day, it is used to charge the batteries. When the sun’s not shining, electricity is drawn from the batteries to power the home or business. The advantage is greater independence for you. The disadvantage is greater complexity and cost.

Solar Power System – Direct DC

Simple, direct DC solar power systems produce energy where and when it’s needed. Common uses include powering water pumps and fans. There is no complex wiring, so storage and control systems aren’t required. Small systems are easy to transport and install.

Solar Power Solutions (DC System)

Hybrid Power Systems

Hybrid power systems combine various sources of electrical generation, and are well suited for electrification. Solar and wind technologies are modular, and seasonal variations of sun and wind often complement each other.

Hybrid System    

Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar

Advantages 

When it comes to the future, solar energy is looking strong. People are now realizing that in the long term, Solar Energy provides a financially viable option. The upfronts costs might be high, but in the long term, everyone can save money by using Solar Energy.

Today, the declining cost and increasing efficiency of solar energy technology has given rise to practical applications on earth – from powering personal electronic devices, homes and factories to generating utility-scale power.

The first commercial use of photovoltaic cells nearly 50 years ago was powering communications satellites in near-earth orbit. Solar Energy provides a huge advantage for satellites because they can be launched into orbit without the added weight of a fuel supply.

Saving money is something that everyone is looking to achieve when it comes to solar energy. The great advantage of solar energy is that it utilizes a free energy resource; the sun. By utilizing the power of the sun, solar energy systems can create electricity. In fact, even if extra energy is produced, this can actually be sold to utility providers at a profit. Solar energy does not just save people money, but it can also make them money too.

A lot more people these days are focused on doing what is right for the environment. This includes things like producing energy. Power plants use a lot of non-renewable energy resources to provide our homes with power. Solar energy systems do not damage the environment in any way, so are good for the future of the planet.

One of the major advantages of solar energy is the lack of maintenance that is required in the long term. The systems do need slight maintenance every now and then, but in the long term, the costs are minimal. This means that once the initial investment has been made, there is little that a owner of a solar energy system really needs to do.

The cost of solar cells is decreasing and the efficacy of these cells is increasing. Moreover the process of generating electricity by using bio fuels is getting expensive and hard. The reason is that production of the essential bio fuels like coal oil and gas are limited to the few countries. This is the reason why most of the underdeveloped countries of the world are switching to the solar power plants. These power plants generate electricity at lower cost as compared to the bio fuels. These solar power plants can support the personal as well as industrial applications. Solar energy can support the launch of satellite into the orbit. This helps to lower the weight of satellite by replacing its fuel with solar heat. The solar energy power plants are really simple to install without indulging into the hassle of wires. Solar energy is free and it is everywhere, this attribute has given it an edge over the other types of energy applications.

Disadvantages 

Solar Energy is fast becoming the most popular way to power the home. There are literally hundreds of advantages, which most manufacturers will focus on. Not everything to do with solar energy is actually positive though. There are actually quite a lot of disadvantages when it comes to producing Solar Energy.

One of the main disadvantages when it comes to Solar Energy is the fact that the intial setup costs are extremely high. Buying a Solar Energy system can cost in the region of thousands. For a lot of people, this simple means that they are priced out of the market. For others, it means is takes years for them to start gaining based on their initial investment. Over time, this will change, as the cost of energy rises and the cost of materials to produce Solar Energy systems reduces.

Another thing to consider when using Solar Energy to produce electricity, is that the systems tend to take up a lot of space. In order to produce a lot of energy, sometimes a whole garden area or roof of a property will need to be used in order to get enough Solar Energy.

Of course, this also relies on the position and strength of the sun, which changes on a daily basis. This means that on days when the sun is blocked or not as strong, then the Solar Energy systems will not produce much in terms of energy. This is one of the major disadvantages of Solar Energy that a lot of people do not think of.

Wind Energy Basics

What is Wind Energy or Wind Power ?

Wind energy is a teeming energy source which never seems to expire.Wind is a form of solar energy. Winds are caused by the uneven heating of the atmosphere by the sun, the irregularities of the earth’s surface, and rotation of the earth. Wind flow patterns are modified by the earth’s terrain, bodies of water, and vegetative cover. This wind flow, or motion energy, when “harvested” by modern wind turbines, can be used to generate electricity.

How Wind Power Is Generated

The terms “wind energy” or “wind power” describe the process by which the wind is used to generate mechanical power or electricity. Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy in the wind into mechanical power.If the mechanical energy is used to produce electricity, the device may be called a wind generator. If the mechanical energy is used to drive machinery, such as for grinding grain or pumping water, the device is called a windmill or wind pump.

Wind Turbines

Wind turbine, like aircraft propeller blades, turn in the moving air and power an electric generator that supplies an electric current. Simply stated, a wind turbine is the opposite of a fan. Instead of using electricity to make wind, like a fan, wind turbines use wind to make electricity. The wind turns the blades, which spin a shaft, which connects to a generator and makes electricity.

How Wind Turbines Work

A wind turbine works the opposite of a fan. Instead of using electricity to make wind, like a fan, wind turbines use wind to make electricity. The wind turns the blades, which spin a shaft, which connects to a generator and makes electricity.

This aerial view of a wind power plant shows how a group of wind turbines can make electricity for the utility grid. The electricity is sent through transmission and distribution lines to homes, businesses, schools, and so on.

Types of Wind Turbines

Wind turbines fall into two basic categories.

1. Horizontal-axis The horizontal-axis variety, like the traditional farm windmills used for pumping water.

2. Vertical-axis The vertical-axis design, like the eggbeater-style Darrieus model.

Most large modern wind turbines are horizontal-axis turbines.Horizontal-axis wind turbines typically either have two or three blades. These three-bladed wind turbines are operated “upwind,” with the blades facing into the wind.

Parts of Wind Turbine

1. Anemometer

Measures the wind speed and transmits wind speed data to the controller.

2. Blades

Most turbines have either two or three blades. Wind blowing over the blades causes the blades to “lift” and rotate.

3. Brake: A disc brake, which can be applied mechanically, electrically, or hydraulically to stop the rotor in emergencies.

4. Controller The controller starts up the machine at wind speeds of about 8 to 16 miles per hour (mph) and shuts off the machine at about 55 mph. Turbines do not operate at wind speeds above about 55 mph because they might be damaged by the high winds.

5. Gear Box Gears connect the low-speed shaft to the high-speed shaft and increase the rotational speeds from about 30 to 60 rotations per minute (rpm) to about 1000 to 1800 rpm, the rotational speed required by most generators to produce electricity. The gear box is a costly (and heavy) part of the wind turbine and engineers are exploring “direct-drive” generators that operate at lower rotational speeds and don’t need gear boxes.

6. Generator Usually an off-the-shelf induction generator that produces 60-cycle AC electricity.

7. High-Speed Shaft Drives the generator.

8. Low-Speed Shaft The rotor turns the low-speed shaft at about 30 to 60 rotations per minute.

9. Nacelle The nacelle sits atop the tower and contains the gear box, low- and high-speed shafts, generator, controller, and brake. Some nacelles are large enough for a helicopter to land on.

10. Pitch Blades are turned, or pitched, out of the wind to control the rotor speed and keep the rotor from turning in winds that are too high or too low to produce electricity.

11. Rotor The blades and the hub together are called the rotor.

12. Tower Towers are made from tubular steel, concrete, or steel lattice. Because wind speed increases with height, taller towers enable turbines to capture more energy and generate more electricity.

13. Wind Direction This is an “upwind” turbine, so-called because it operates facing into the wind. Other turbines are designed to run “downwind,” facing away from the wind.

14. Wind Vane Measures wind direction and communicates with the yaw drive to orient the turbine properly with respect to the wind.

15. Yaw Drive Upwind turbines face into the wind; the yaw drive is used to keep the rotor facing into the wind as the wind direction changes. Downwind turbines don’t require a yaw drive, the wind blows the rotor downwind.

16. Yaw Motor Powers the yaw drive.

Turbine Configurations

Wind turbines are often grouped together into a single wind power plant, also known as a wind farm, and generate bulk electrical power. Electricity from these turbines is fed into a utility grid and distributed to customers, just as with conventional power plants.

Wind Turbine Size and Power Ratings

Wind turbines are available in a variety of sizes, and therefore power ratings. The largest machine has blades that span more than the length of a football field, stands 20 building stories high, and produces enough electricity to power 1,400 homes. A small home-sized wind machine has rotors between 8 and 25 feet in diameter and stands upwards of 30 feet and can supply the power needs of an all-electric home or small business. Utility-scale turbines range in size from 50 to 750 kilowatts. Single small turbines, below 50 kilowatts, are used for homes, telecommunications dishes, or water pumping.

Solar Energy Basics

We have used the Sun for drying clothes and food for thousands of years, but only recently have we been able to use it for generating power.The Sun is 150 million kilometres away, and amazingly powerful.

Just the tiny fraction of the Sun’s energy that hits the Earth (around a hundredth of a millionth of a percent) is enough to meet all our power needs many times over.

In fact, every minute, enough energy arrives at the Earth to meet our demands for a whole year – if only we could harness it properly.

Solar Energy Basics

Solar is the Latin word for sun—a powerful source of energy that can be used to heat, cool, and light our homes and businesses. That’s because more energy from the sun falls on the earth in one hour than is used by everyone in the world in one year. A variety of technologies convert sunlight to usable energy for buildings. The most commonly used solar technologies for homes and businesses are solar water heating, passive solar design for space heating and cooling, and solar photovoltaics for electricity.

Businesses and industry also use these technologies to diversify their energy sources, improve efficiency, and save money. Solar photovoltaic and concentrating solar power technologies are also being used by developers and utilities to produce electricity on a massive scale to power cities and small towns.

The energy from the sun can be used to overcome the energy crisis generated by the scarcity of resources like oil and gas. Solar energy is free and it is everywhere. That is why now more and more countries have switched to processes which help them conserve the heat and light from sun.

Access of Sun to Earth

Sun is a part of solar system and it completes its rotation around the earth in 365 days. When the sunrays travel a long way from sky to earth they carry with them the heat and light of sun. Our earth is capable of absorbing this heat. 30% of the solar energy is sent back while the remaining 70% is consumed by the oceans, rivers, land and clouds. This solar energy is also responsible for rain. It is this energy which completes the water cycle for us. The water vapors accumulate in the air and when they are carried to some higher altitude, these vapors compress themselves to clouds and they shower rain. We receive 3, 85,000EJ energy every year which is sufficient to meet the energy requirement of solar projects. It is not the sun which is responsible for global warming it is the industry and businesses run by man who is responsible. The widespread devastation of forests for bio fuels has affected the mechanism of greenhouse effect hence there is now more heat in summer than which can be tolerated.

Uses & Applications of Solar Energy

The development and research in the field of alternative fuel generation has also given rise to improvement in the utilization of solar energy. The various applications of solar energy include solar power houses, solar vehicles, cooking, water purification, solar lighting and use of solar thermal energy. The most recent progress in the field of solar energy consumption is the introduction of the concept solar thermal energy. This is the way to harness solar rays to generate heat from them. This process is used to heat water using evacuated tube collectors and glazed flat plate collectors. Thermal solar energy is also used to disinfect water form the germs using sunrays. The heat from the sunrays eliminates the bacteria present in the tap water; this process is called water treatment. Solar energy is also used to cook food in solar cookers. These cookers are specifically designed to store heat of sun to utilize later on. Another amazing dimension of solar heating is the “Process Heat”. Parabolic dish antennas and scheffler reflectors facilitate this process and the heat stored in this way is used for industrial applications. This process is not only helpful in generating electricity but it also produces steam. Some other applications include solar ponds and solar power houses.

Electricity Generation from Sunlight

Electricity today has become essential for our survival. However with the passage of time the cost of production and consumption has also increased. This has forced mankind to look for the alternative ways to generate electric current. The heat from the sun is converted to electricity using Photovoltaic. The use of Photovoltaic was limited to very small applications like solar calculators. However now this mechanisms is used to generate electricity in very large power houses of up to 14MW. This is an economical way to produce electricity however every solar power house requires a strong backup support usually form wind power houses. However for the purpose of using Photovoltaic at home one can maintain a backup system by using batteries.

How Solar Power Works or How Solar Energy Works

The light and heat generated by sun can be conserved for diverse energy and power applications. Solar energy source of energy is under the phase of development and experimentation. Solar energy valuable energy is capable of providing heating, ventilation and fuel alternatives. Sun is an abundant energy resource and most of all it comes with the environment friendly package. Hence it is a common thought now that this energy source would lead towards its way to the end of this century.

Chemical Reaction in the Sun

The sun is the ruling star in of our solar system. This useful star provides us comfort, energy and growth. It is the presence of sunlight that we are able to grow plants and cultivate our barren land. Hydrogen consumed during nuclear fusion present in the sun generates radiant energy. This process helps the solar rays to reach earth in the form of very small energy packets called photons. These photons are absorbed by our oceans and land. When the sunrays reach to earth they interact with the oceans and rivers. The heats present in the sunlight facilitate the process of evaporation. It is in this process that water vapors, winds and cyclones are produced. If we implant aerodynamic wind mills in the way we can generate electricity from this process as well.

Solar Energy Working

If we store sunlight for constant 20 days we can replace a yearly reserve of coal, natural gas and oil. The energy present in the earth’s outer atmosphere is about 1300 Watts, which reduces to 1000Watts when it finally reaches the earth. The solar energy works only if we store it. Solar energy collectors are now implanted to store this energy. These are large flat black containers which are covered by glass. These solar energy collectors are placed ate the roof tops or in large barren land which is specifically allocated to solar energy consumption. The collector contains pipes which carry liquid in them. The liquid is a mixture of alcohol and water. This process either heats the water or air (the air is carried through the radiators to the building).the working of solar energy is also dependent upon how we utilize and transform it.

Conversion of Solar Energy

The solar energy is converted to chemical energy when plants use it to perform the process of photosynthesis. Hence solar energy works by utilizing its light and heat effectiveness. The solar energy is converted into thermal solar energy by directly converting the heat from the sun into thermal energy. When the power of the sunrays is converted into the electricity with the help of chemical reaction in the solar cells, it is an example of Photovoltaic conversion of energy. It is important to understand here that solar energy works naturally to facilitate the growth of plant and the working of our echo system. However now there are many artificial ways to make use of the solar energy. This solar energy works for us humans if we store it using different storage devices like the panels, solar cells and scheffler reflectors. Simple examples of solar cooker will explain how this solar energy works? Solar cooker is comprised of metal foil. This metal foil is capable of storing heat. When we place this solar cooker under sun for an entire day .it stores enough heat in it for the purpose of cooking food later in the evening. These solar cookers were invented to prevent immense deforestation in the rural areas. These cookers are an inexpensive and environment friendly way to cook food. The reason for environment friendliness is that these cookers do not generate harmful gases like carbon monoxide.

Why We Prefer Solar Energy, Reasons to Use Solar Energy

If we observe our environment which is the most abundant and free resource available to us, the answer is solar energy. Hence it is a natural alternative to fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal. The energy from the fossil fuels and water is used to generate electricity at large. The scarcity and wastage of these resources have made them expensive to use. Therefore solar energy is the low cost and safe alternative to the other fuels. There are many reasons to use solar energy like expensive fossils and bio fuels, global warming and development in solar energy utilization.

Expensive Bio Fuels

Solar energy is a renewable energy source which is relatively inexpensive. The reason for its being getting famous is its availability and abundance. While in the case of other bio fuels like oil and gas which are limited to the ownership of few countries this natural resource is free. These countries have monopoly over these resources and it is over their will that the prices of these biofuel like coal and oil fluctuate in the international market. Hence if we work on developing solar energy power plants we can save sufficient amount of tax imposed on importing oil and other biofuels. Development of power house using bio fuels is also an expensive project. All one need is to deploy solar grids. However the solar power project requires minimum initial investment. The deployment of solar grids is scaleable because the more you deploy solar grids the more you produce electricity.

Global Warming and Solar Energy

The use of fuels like oil and gas in homes, cars and industry has brought us to the problem of global warming. The extreme production of harmful gases like carbon monoxide has destroyed the ozone layer hence we receive both the harmful and harmless sunrays. The extreme pollution in our planet has disturbed the smooth working of our echo system. This has resulted in lower rainfalls and dries whether. The use of sun to support industrial processes can help us overcome the worst situation of global warming. It can also help us stop destroying our fertile land from the harmful waste resulting from industrial processes. The governments all over the world are supporting the solar power projects especially in the under developed countries. The south Asian countries like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh are planning major solar power projects to utilize the beneficial solar energy.

Development and Research in the field of Alternative Fuels

The research in the field of alternative fuels has helped scientist to discover renewable energy projects. One such solar project which was initiated in the red sea recently was the experiment of solar ponds. The red is rich in salt content. It is deep and contains heaps of salt. This presence of salt is utilized to store solar heat in it. The temperature in lower salt layers reaches to 90 degrees Celsius which is sufficient to process heat and water. Such developments and more in this field are economical this is another reason why we should switch to alternative energy sources. The solar energy is helpful in generating tax free electricity at home that is why now end users have deployed batteries which support solar electricity generation. Solar energy is of many uses like water treatments, cooking and ventilation. The awareness about using solar cookers in rural areas has also helped to decrease the cut down of trees for cooking purposes. The solar vehicles do not emit harmful gases like other vehicles. hence all in all the profusion and simplicity to use the solar energy has gave us innumerable reasons to use it as a renewable energy source alone or in combination with wind and geothermal energy sources.

History of Solar Energy

Solar Energy History from 400 B.C. to the present day advances.Even when the supply of fossil fuels seemed endless, there were those who were interested in harnessing the power of the sun for energy. In 400 B.C. the Greeks were the first to implement the sun’s rays for heat. During this time they began to orient the placement of their houses to trap solar heat during winter.

SOLAR ENERGY HISTORY – 18th CENTURY

Even though the first solar collector was built by Swiss scientist Horace de Saussure in 1767, it would be another century before French inventor Auguste Mouchout would patent a design for a motor to run on solar energy. His devices turned solar energy into steam power.

SOLAR ENERGY HISTORY – 19th CENTURY

In 1878 the first book about solar energy, A Substitute for Fuel in Tropical Countries was written by William Adams. Using mirrors Adams was able to power a 2.5 horsepower steam engine. His design known as the Power Tower Concept is still in use today. The photovoltaic effect or the production of electricity directly form the sun was discovered by Frenchman Henry Becquerel in 1890. In 1891 American Clarence Kemp received a patent for the first solar water heater.

SOLAR ENERGY HISTORY – 20th CENTURY

The early 1900’s brings more knowledge and improvement to the quest for solar power. In 1904 Henry Willsie built two plants in California. Willsie was the first person to use solar power at night after generating it during the day. Still he was not able to make sales and his solar company folded.

The 1950’s brings more development in the solar energy sector. The first solar water heating system was placed in a commercial building as the primary source for interior heat. The first commercial solar cells was also made available to the public. Space programs made extensive use of solar power from the early 1960’s to present day.

By the end of the 1970’s there were over 100 solar manufacturers in the United States. With the energy crisis of the seventy’s, the realization of the importance of solar energy to replace traditional energy methods became clear. From that point until today solar energy has gradually received more and more interest and support.

Today there is a renewed focus on solar energy. More people are recognizing the need and the advantage of solar power. Solar cells are powering an array of items from household appliances to cars. Solar electric systems now power many homes and commercial businesses. The future of solar power to provide inexhaustible power supply at affordable costs is great.