Solar Power

April 15th, 2010 - Posted by RESNET under Solar Energy

Each year, there is enough solar energy on Earth to provide 1000 times the amount of energy that was consumed on the entire planet in 2008. Currently, only 0.2% of the total energy created on the planet was from solar.

Although most people have heard of solar energy, most are not aware of the potential that solar power can offer and how efficient it is to implement into real life applications.

How is Solar Power Generated?

Simply put, solar power is the generation of electricity from sunlight. There are two main ways solar power is created; the least well known is concentrating solar power or CSP, and the other is the more common photovoltaic technique. Both are explained below:

  • Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) – This is the oldest technique that scientists used to harness the power of the sun. By using mirrors or other highly reflective surfaces to concentrate sunlight, it was discovered that large amounts of heat could be created. This had many applications, but once the heat was applied to water it led to the creation of electricity. This type of solar power generation is more common in areas that receive an abundance of direct sunlight, but as reflector technology improves, less direct sunlight is needed to absorb enough of the sun’s energy to create substantial amounts of electricity.
  • Photovoltaic – Solar cell technology, or photovoltaic, is the most common form of creating solar power. It uses the photoelectric effect, based on the 1880’s discovery that found that some materials release electrons when hit by rays of light, creating electricity. Solar panels, or photovoltaic cells, are used to convert sunlight into electricity. This technology has come a long way since the 19th century. With continued research and development – especially since the fuel shortages of the 1970’s – photovoltaic solar power has become an efficient, cost effective source of electricity.

An Efficient, Cost-Effective Source of Electricity

In the early stages of solar technology, it wasn’t a realistic source of energy for homes or businesses. However, this technology has come a long way since then. With continued research and development – especially since the fuel shortages of the 1970’s – solar power has become an efficient, cost effective source of electricity.

Financial Incentives Available

Solar power is environmentally friendly, sustainable, and once installed offers free electricity.  In addition tax incentives and rebates are being offered by several levels of government and utilities for installing solar power. See available Tax Credits.

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