The sun is one of the biggest stars in the galaxy and also an important source of light on the earth. It is a powerful source of energy. The sun’s radiation is essential to life on the earth especially since its energy fuels the earth. Energy from the sun is produced through thermonuclear fusion on its core which is released as neutrinos and electromagnetic radiations. The environment reflects about 23 percent of the incoming energy and reflects 29 percent.
Solar power is the conversion of solar energy from the sun to electricity directly or indirectly using solar technologies. There are basically two types of solar power systems; photovoltaic system (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP). The photovoltaic system directly converts sun rays to electricity via a semiconductor material while the concentrated solar power system converts sun rays indirectly. The CSP initially converts the sun’s ray to heat and then uses the heat to generate electricity. Solar energy can also be generated by using a combination of both systems.
Solar power and solar energy are often used interchangeably but they mean different things. Solar energy refers to the total energy radiated from the sun through visible light and other electromagnetic waves. This energy is often utilized using some technologies which include photovoltaics, solar heating, solar thermal energy, solar architecture, etc. Solar energy is a vital source of renewable energy.
Some of the benefits of solar power are;
- Clean renewable source of energy
Solar energy is a renewable source of energy that can be used daily in all areas of the world. The beauty of it is that we would never run out of solar energy as long as the sun exists and it has been in existence for over 5 billion years. It is also a clean source of energy because it offers no pollution.
- Low cost of maintenance
Once the solar panel is set up, the cost of maintenance is relatively low compared to the grid energy. You would only need to clean them a few times in the year. Most solar panels have a long warranty of about 20-25 years and the fact that they are not movable reduces wear and tear.
- Applicable everywhere
Solar energy can be used just anywhere in the world and this is an added advantage especially for those in rural and developing areas. It also stores extra power for use at night so there would not be cases of blackouts.
- Improves grid security
Due to the increase in demand for electricity in our modernized world, the pressure on the grid system is relatively increased and this has made the grid system more vulnerable to blackouts and voltage dips. A grid having high penetration of solar power will have thousands of production centers that are largely spread out. This enhances grid security especially in cases of overload, natural disasters, and human-caused disasters.
- Local job creation
Generally, renewable energy is considered to be more labor-intensive than the fossil fuel sector hence the more units of energy produced, the more jobs created.
- Reduces respiratory and cardio-related health issues
The use of solar energy greatly reduces the number of air pollutants in the environment. This would reduce the number of persons coming down with diseases such as chronic bronchitis and other respiratory problems. Some of these gases such as methane and carbon dioxide released in the air during the production of fossil fuels are considered to cause cancer.
- Slows climate change
The earth is currently experiencing global warming and this is a result of the greenhouse effect. During the generation of electricity, toxic gases are produced which enhances the greenhouse effect and most of the debacles occurring in the earth today are a result of global warming. The use of solar energy does not emit greenhouse gases which help to reduce the greenhouse effect.
- Less energy lost during transportation
About 3-5 percent of regular energy produced is lost on the way when it is being transported to substations in other locations. The farther the distance between the point of production and point of supply, the more energy is lost. This loss of energy can be avoided if solar energy is in place.
- Saves water
The regular production of electricity is largely dependent on water as lots of water is needed to refine fuel, cool off generators and transport these fuels in pipes. This is unlike solar energy which does not require any water thus saving water and the environment.
The benefits of solar power cannot be overemphasized. It is one of the safest and reliable sources of energy and it is environment-friendly. It can be used to power homes, buildings, and even cars. To save our environment, solar power is the way forward.