Solar Energy- (so-lar en-er-gy) Energy from the sun which is converted into thermal or electrical energy.
Energy from the Sun
The sun has produced energy for billions of years. Solar energy is the sun's rays (solar radiation) that reach the Earth. This energy can be converted into other forms of energy, such as heat and electricity.
Solar energy can be converted to electricity in two ways:
Photovoltaic (PV devices) or "solar cells" change sunlight directly into electricity. Individual PV cells are grouped into panels and arrays of panels that can be used in a wide range of applications ranging from single small cells that charge calculator's and watch batteries, to systems that power single homes, to buildings, to large power plants covering many acres.
Concentrating Solar Power Plants generate electricity by using the heat from solar thermal collectors to heat a fluid which produces steam that is used to power the generator. Out of the 11 known concentrating solar power generating units operating in the United States at the end of 2008, 9 of these are in California, 1 in Arizona, and 1 in Nevada.
Facts about Solar Energy usage:
- Solar Energy is measured in kilowatt-hour(KWh). 1 kilowatt = 1000 watts
- 1 kilowatt-hour(KWh) = the amount of electricity required to burn a 100 watt light bulb for 10 hours.
- According to the U.S. Department of Energy(DOE), an average American household used approximately 866-kilowatt hours per month in 1999.
Our sun is a huge energy generator that provides us with a tremendous quantity of power that mostly goes unused. Solar panels can convert the energy from the sun's rays directly into useable electrical energy. Although the actual method of converting solar radiation into electricity involves a complicated formula that requires an in depth knowledge of physics to understand, just knowing that the solar energy our planet receives can be changed into electricity and exceeds all of our electrical needs.
Something that keeps a lot of people from deciding to take the step up into solar energy, is the mistaken idea that solar energy is in some manner a lower quality energy than electricity produced from fossil fuels. In actuality, solar energy's emissions free conversion to electricity makes it a high quality an even more beneficial energy source as far as the enviroment is concerned.
Do you know which country utilizes solar energy to the highest degree? Despite its northern location far from the equator and its comparatively small population, Germany presently employs more solar energy than any other country. This should dispel any of the misconceptions about solar energy not being a credible energy solution in northern climates. PV works well in both Florida and Alaska type climates.