Solar power is one of the leading stakeholders in the push for renewable energy sources, and one of the few commercially available for the public to use. The principle of solar energy is that the energy from the sun can be converted to useful forms of energy and can substitute the use of power generated through burning coal and fossil fuels in the scale of a residential home. The industry itself has seen a rise in investment which resulted in more rapid development of solar technology. Today’s solar electronics are much more potent than they were just a few years ago and give solar power a fighting chance to be seriously considered as a substitute for fossil fuel energy generation. Solar is not without drawbacks however, and there are several problems that may stop it entirely from being adopted for primary use by many countries. The energy emitted by the sun that reaches the Earth surface in about an hour and a half can power the entire Earth for a whole year if it were completely utilised. However, even with today’s technological advancements, we are only able to extract a fraction of the power sent by the Sun. This article goes through the principles behind solar power and the process of converting solar energy into usable energy.

It should be noted that solar power does not necessarily require the generation of electricity. A popular use of solar energy is heating water, where a water tank on the roof of a house is spread through iron tubes over a wider area which allows for greater absorption of heat. Such a device does not generate electricity but directly heats the water. Find out more about these devices at solar hot water Brisbane.

Electricity Generation

Modern solar panels convert solar rays into electricity, which is stored in batteries, utilised directly, or fed into the power grid for which the owners of the solar panels receive credit. A solar panel is comprised of a series of solar cells, also known as photovoltaic cells. Each cell has a thin semiconductor made of two layers; one negatively charged, and the other positively charged. Light energy from the Sun reaching the semiconductor can energise the electrons in the negatively charged layer and set it to motion due to the electrical field around the cell. This motion generates electrical current. The generated electricity can be used to charge a battery which then allows the retrieval of electricity even during times the Sun does not shine or used directly. The direct current generated by the cell should be passed through an electrical inverter to be converted into alternating current which can be used by many household appliances.

Limitations

One of the most significant is the fact that it requires the Sun to shine. In many places on Earth, the sun may not shine for weeks or months at a time. The other is that solar panels are inefficient and converts very little of the actual energy given by the sun.