The Sun has always been a fascinating celestial object since the time life began on earth. Solar power is nothing but the sunlight that shines on the Earth’s surface. Astronomically it is our nearest star, and without this star, life can’t exist on Earth. It has been estimated that one hour of solar power can meet the energy demands of the entire world for one complete year. It not only gives light, but has been a source of energy as well. Given its manifold benefits, it is no wonder that it is being worshiped in many religions, the world over. Get yourself updated on how solar energy is harnessed from the upcoming sections.
Working of Solar Power
To understand how solar power works, we first need to know the way this energy is produced. It is produced from the Sun’s radiations, i.e., the sunlight.
- Sunlight on reaching the upper portion of the Earth’s atmosphere passes through many layers inside it.
- When it finally reaches the Earth’s surface, it is in the form of visible and infrared radiations.
- It is here that the radiation is used as chemical energy by the plants in the process of photosynthesis, and human beings use that in the form of heat energy.
- Common Use: When drying a damp cloth in the sun, the water in the damp cloth gets evaporated, and the cloth turns dry. When heating a bucket of water under sunlight, heat is absorbed by the water particles, resulting in a rise in the temperature of water. In both the cases, the heat in the sunlight is absorbed by the water particles.
- In Industries: The electrical energy is derived from the electromagnetic radiations of the sunlight. The conversion of solar energy into electrical energy is achieved by many ways using solar thermal electric power plants, power towers, parabolic troughs, etc. In all these methods, the underlying principle is the conversion of solar energy into electrical energy.
- For Illumination: Hybrid solar lighting is one of the methods of using natural light, for illumination purpose. By focusing the sunlight on mirrors, it is collected and diverted through optical fibers into the interiors of buildings, for supplementing the conventional lighting systems.
Uses of Solar Power
- Washed laundry hung outside the house gets dried up very easily.
- Sunlight assists in plant decaying, resulting in the formation of fossil fuel.
- It is utilized in the making of solar ovens which are used for cooking. These ovens have replaced the conventional cooking fuels such as wood, coal, etc. It is also a cheap source, as sunlight is available in abundance.
- Another advantage is its convertibility into other forms like electrical energy or light energy. The process of generating electricity from solar energy using semiconductors is known as ‘Photovoltaics’. Your solar-powered watches and calculators use this technology, and are embedded with solar cells.
- They find immense usage in satellites and spacecrafts as well.
- Natural light is used for illumination purpose. During daytime, the Sun produces enough light for visibility. It is a passive method of using this energy.
Word of Caution
After knowing the various benefits of solar power, it is indeed very painful to know that the source of sunlight is affected by pollution these days. Known as global dimming, it is the reduction in the amount of irradiance on the Earth’s surface over a period of time. This has happened because our atmosphere has got polluted with carbon particles due to reckless human activities. Atmospheric pollution has also brought about global climatic changes, along with increasing the average temperature on the Earth’s surface.
Let us bear in mind that our future energy requirements can be met only with the help of this easily available, abundant, and inexpensive source of energy. Therefore, we all need to take small measures to save our environment from getting ruined.