A key part of today’s green living movement requires the introduction of alternative energy sources. These alternative energy sources will eventually eliminate our consumption of the more traditional and controversial fossil fuel generated energy. An alternative energy source can be generated by either solar power or by the wind. Solar power is gaining a lot of popularity as an alternative way to provide energy for commercial and residential structures.
Solar power gets its energy directly from the sun’s natural light. Besides being extremely environmentally friendly it is also is very cost effective over a long period of time. A solar power definition can sometimes be confusing but in the most simplest term, a solar power definition is the free energy that we receive from the sun. The U.S. Energy Information Administration uses a definition that solar energy or solar power is, basically, the sun’s rays or solar radiation.
When solar radiation reaches the earth it can be converted into various forms of energy such as either electricity or heat. It is a sustainable and renewable energy resource that can be used anywhere in the world. There are two different ways that you can convert solar power into electricity.
The first way is by means of photo-voltaic devices or solar cells which are more commonly known as solar panels. A solar panel consists of a semiconductor material and two sheets of silicon. The silicon will be separated by an electrical field. This electrical field is designed to capture all of the photons of energy from the sun’s powerful rays.
The other way of converting solar power to electricity is from solar thermal power plants. A solar thermal power plant will utilize the sun to heat a fluid to a high temperature. The high temperature fluid is then transported through various pipes. The pipes run through water and this results in steam being released.
The steam will then be converted into mechanical energy by means of a turbine. It then will travel to a conventional generator that is attached to the turbine. A solar thermal power system is basically a solar power tower or a solar dish.
The benefits of solar power are obvious. First, the power is virtually inexhaustible. Second, solar power does not foul the air with pollution or greenhouse gas emissions. Third, solar power can be used to supply energy to either small or large scale systems.
Even though many people may have a different definition of solar power it is interesting to note that solar power is becoming more and more efficient. Originally, the cost of a solar power system for a home or a business was very expensive and sometimes lacking efficiency. Today, we see that new technologies and materials have made solar panels both efficient and very affordable.
In fact, there are many new housing divisions and building structures that require the builder to only use solar or wind power. Whatever the future of solar power will be is yet to be determined but there is no doubt that this planet requires environmentally friendly alternative energy sources.