Solar Energy

Topics: Photovoltaics, Solar energy, Solar thermal energy Pages: 5 (1574 words) Published: December 4, 2012
Alternative Energy : Solar Energy
Energy is something that the whole world relies on daily. Without energy the earth would be dark and nothing will be able to function. Recently there has been many issues with the different types of resources that are used to create energy. Many resources that are used are non renewable resource. This means that the resources such as oil and coal are not grown or produced, they are found in places in specific parts of the world. These resources are also known as fossil fuels. Researchers have been working for many years to find new ways to create energy without using these resources that cause problems for the environment. By using renewable sources such as the sun, new ways to create energy have emerged. Solar energy is energy that is produced from the sun light. This type of energy that comes from the sun can create electricity in households. With new developing technology solar energy can produce different types of energy for different uses such as heating water or creating electricity for a home. This alternative energy that goes beyond fossil fuels can be extremely helpful for the environment but there also can be some downfalls for a consumer if they wanted to use solar energy to produce electricity.

The sun has been played a very important role for earth and humans. It has been the producer of light and without it many things would not exist. Now another role that the sun is playing in humanity is being a producer of energy. The term solar energy refers to the direct conversion of the Sun’s rays to energy in forms that can produce electricity.(James R. Craig 2011) Solar cells, which is also known as photovoltaic cells/PV cells are devices made out of silicon. This device can turn the suns rays straight to electricity. The size of the PV cell devices can vary among many different products. Many PV cells are used on calculators and with the solar energy can make the calculator work. Other people use solar cells to generate electricity for machines, buildings and other appliances. The silicon that the solar cells are made up of are semiconductors, so when the light shines on the solar panels electricity is created. A number of solar cells wired together form a solar panel. Solar panels are often installed on the roofs of buildings to provide some or all of the electricity the buildings use. To provide even more electricity, a number of panels are combined together to form an array.(Walker 2007)

Besides solar energy being used to produce electricity for homes or buildings, it is also used to heat up water. This is known and solar thermal energy. Solar thermal energy is mainly used to heat up water. “A solar water heating system is made up of a solar thermal collector and a storage tank. When the sun shines on the thermal collector, the water inside the panel’s pipe is heated up”.(Oxlade 2008) This kind of system can provide half the energy that is used to heat up water with other systems. Typically a solar hot water system can cost anywhere from $7,000 and up and it can supply a household with up to 80% of their hot water. This system has been around since the late 1800‘s. In the 1890s, solar water heaters were used all over the United States, about 30 percent of homes in California used solar water heaters. By 1920 there were tens of thousands of solar water heaters being sold. At this time there were large oil and natural gas deposits found and because of this the price of fuel declined and the idea of solar water heater systems diminished. Today there are more than half a million of solar water heaters in just California.(1994-2010) People also use the solar water heaters not only for household hot water and heat but to also warm up pools. Although the main use of solar thermal energy is used to heat water, it is also used to produced electricity just like the solar cells. They have solar thermal power stations where heat is trapped and used to produced steam. The steam...
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