“Make hay while the sun shines” isn’t merely a cliché. Today with energy bills spiraling out of control, pollution levels peaking and conventional sources on the decline, it’s high time we thought of alternatives like solar.
The solar market is growing and shining world-wide. In the US alone, solar has experienced an average annual growth rate of 68% in the last decade as more and more people become aware of the huge benefits of going solar. Many people are cutting down on consumption to save on bills and most of us are left in the dark when there’s a power outage. That’s why solar energy is a great choice.
What Is Solar Energy?
We have the largest living source of energy right above us. The sun provides the earth with nearly 174 petawatts (one petawatt is equal to one quadrillion watts) coming in at the upper levels of atmosphere, but this is reduced considerably by the time it reaches the surface of the earth. Yet, the amount is still enormous. If all the sunlight that strikes Texas for instance can be converted to energy, it would be 300 times more than the output of all the power-plants world-wide!
Converting sunlight into energy that can be used for our daily purposes is an ever-evolving technology. Being a vital source of completely renewable energy that can never be depleted as long as the sun shines, this energy has huge potential.
Light from the sun is converted into electricity directly using photovoltaic cells or indirectly using concentrated solar power.
This electricity can be used to power lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation systems, for cooking, water-treatment plants, etc. Solar energy can be stored in cells, molten-salt etc.
What Makes Solar A Great Idea
Solar power use has been around since 1876, when scientists discovered that when selenium was exposed to light, it produced electricity. This meant that energy could be produced without heat or any moving elements/parts. In 1953, further research led to the development of the solar energy storage cell which was made available commercially in 1956.
Since then, there’s been no looking back. From solar panels mounted on roof-tops to solar-powered vehicles, screen-printed solar cells, solar fabric, solar-shingles to mount on roofs etc the field is simply burgeoning.
The benefits of going solar include:
- Big savings: Adding solar to your existing power-plan can bring in monthly savings of hundreds of dollars in certain areas. Many cities/counties have solar-power purchase agreements, solar leasing etc that allow home-owners to go solar with little or no investment of their own.
- Property-values: A home/building with solar-power panels installed increases in value according to recent reports. It is a very secure investment, with guaranteed performance.
- Tax benefits/rebates/credits: Federal income-tax credits, state and local rebates and numerous incentives make installing solar a great idea. Low-income home-owners can benefit from low payback schemes. No-cost installation is offered by many companies, in return for a share of electricity generated. You start saving from Day 1.
- Environmentally responsible: The health and social benefits of going solar are obvious. Renewable and safe solar energy is natural and helps combat pollution, greenhouse gases, emissions. Traditional sources like coal, water, natural gas or nuclear can be harmful for health. Solar power use has both short and long term benefits for the environment.
- Energy independence: Apart from becoming self-reliant and providing excess energy back to the grid, going solar also reduces the country’s dependence on oil imports. Eventually, the country will run out of coal, natural gas and oil. Solar energy helps you plan for such a future.
- Low-maintenance, easy and convenient: Today, with so many companies in the business, technology advances and architectural innovations, installing solar power is convenient, simple and cost-effective. Solar panels need very little maintenance.
- Effective even on cloudy days: You just need an average of 2.5 hours of sunlight in a day for your solar panels to be effective. Diffused sunlight on cloudy days can also produce energy that can be stored.
- Clean and non-polluting: Coal, gas and fossil-fuel based energy sources produce harmful side-products that are harmful for health of humans, animals, plants, air and water. Such power-sources have been linked to cancer, respiratory problems, heart attacks, neurological damage and allergies. Solar reduces overall health-care costs and premature mortality.
Solar is the option of the future. Do your own research to find whether it’s right for you and whether your state/county supports solar energy use. If you own your home or the building, with a good-condition roof, this is the ideal choice.
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