Solar power is energy that is derived from the sun and converted into heat or electricity. It is a versatile source of renewable energy that can be used in an amazing number of applications, providing power for everything from cars and boats to houses and spacecraft. It is also clean and pollution-free.
For many years, solar power has been used in traditional buildings. In recent years, however, it has provoked great interest, as the high cost and limited supply of fossil fuels becomes increasingly problematic in some developed countries. Many businesses and institutions are researching new ways to harness the power of the sun and make its use more practical and effective. However, solar power is already in widespread use in remote locations where access to other power sources is limited.
Energy from the sun is converted into power using solar collectors, most commonly known as solar panels. Solar panels consist of solar cells designed to capture energy from the sun. The solar panels used in heating air and liquid are different from those used to provide electricity. To absorb the highest possible amount of solar energy, solar panels must be pointed at the sun.
Energy from the sun can be converted into solar power in two ways. The first way involves the use of solar thermal applications. Solar thermal applications use the sun's energy to provide direct heat to air or liquid. Solar thermal panels can be used for both residential and larger-scale applications.
The second way of obtaining solar power involves the use of photoelectric applications. Photoelectric applications use photovoltaic cells in converting energy from the sun into electricity. Photovoltaic cells are considered low maintenance and well suited to remote applications. They use semiconductors like silicon to convert energy from the sun into electricity.
There are some disadvantages to using solar power. First, a large number of panels may be necessary to produce sufficient amounts of heat or electricity, requiring a significant financial investment. Second, parts of the world that don't receive large amounts of sunlight are not well suited to the generation of this type of power. Third, solar panels cannot be used to generate power at night and the production of power may be impaired when there is significant cloud cover. Still, many experts believe that solar power may one day be a much more practical and widely used resource.