With the environmental impacts of using non-renewable sources of energy becoming crystal clear, many people are eager to learn about the alternatives. One particular prospect that is garnering much attention as of late is solar power. But, what is solar power exactly and how can it provide a better source of energy are questions that plague many who wonder if the sun can really provide a feasible alternative.
To answer what is solar power, it does help to understand how this type of energy is harvested and used. On the very basic end, what is solar power is answered by nothing more than sun energy. A slightly more complex answer centers on standard collection systems and how they work. The basic components of the system that illustrate what is solar power and how beneficial it can be include:
• Solar panels – When diving in to understand what is solar power, the collection devices for this type of energy are important to grasp. Solar panels are nothing more than sophisticated devices that absorb and trap the sun’s heat or photon energy. Once trapped, the sun’s energy is transformed within solar panels to become direct current electricity.
• Inverters – Since most electrical systems operate using alternating current energy, answering what is solar power and making it clear that it is very usable must include an explanation of these devices. Inverters are included in solar power systems to take that DC energy collected by solar panels and turn it into usable AC energy.
• Batteries or the electrical grid – Once collected and transformed, solar energy is stored in batteries or sent directly into the electrical grid for immediate use. Batteries are very commonly used in home-based systems and remote systems. The solar collection system serves to charge batteries during the day that are in turn used to power electrical equipment around the clock.
So, what is solar power? By today’s standards, it is a renewable energy source that is quickly becoming a viable alternative to using fossil fuels to cool and heat homes, power cars and more. Although solar energy collection systems are still considered imperfect, they are used around the globe to replace or augment other energy sources. The advantages of using solar power are many, and include:
• Its renewable nature – The sun’s energy is renewable, meaning it will not go away. Coal, however, is in limited supply.
• Its cleaner functioning – Solar power is much cleaner to gather and use than other forms of energy. The environmental impacts are very minor when compared to fossil fuels.
What is solar power is a question that many are asking. As this source of energy becomes more efficient and affordable, it’s likely a question that will be asked by those seeking alternatives to costly and environmentally damaging fossil fuel use.