Solar power is a renewable source of energy that is effective in reducing the carbon footprint. Solar power is a perfect substitute for hydropower and the use of engines that run on petroleum products and steam (Benduhn, 18). This technology relies on the use of certain materials to capture and harness the sun’s energy into electric energy. Solar power generation employs environmental friendly means. The power generated can be converted into Alternating Current (AC) and used to run operations that would normally use hydropower and petroleum engines. As such, solar power generation and usage are energy-efficient and efficient in the reduction of human carbon footprint.
There are two types of solar power generation systems. These are Solar Thermal and Photovoltaic or (PV). The solar thermal panels are those that use the sun’s energy to heat water that is later used in washing and heating purposes (Gevorkian, 17). The heated water can be supplied to warm the inside of buildings. It can also be used for domestic chores such as, washing and bathing. The PV panels are the ones that find the highest number of applications because they deal with the generation of power that can be used to perform tasks previously or that can be performed by mains electricity (Knez & Borut, 27). These include powering machines and lighting.
First, generation of solar power requires a number of materials. These are a solar panel detail, solar panel, inverter, wires, and battery. Solar panels are made of light-sensitive material that converts the sun’s energy into electricity (Gevorkian, 27). The materials making up the solar panel are semiconductors usually silicon-based that are placed between electrical contacts. When the sun hits the panel, the photovoltaic material absorbs the energy, which the knocks loose electrons from some of the atoms making up the semiconductor (Gevorkian, 27). Since the semiconductor is positively charged on one side and negative charged on the other, the polarity causes the free electrons to flow in one direction, thereby, creating an electric current.
The solar panel generates Direct Current (DC) that has limited uses and applications. The DC is then changed to Alternating Current using an inverter. Once the electricity is in the AC form, it can be used to run machines, light homes, and industries among other uses (Thanju, 46). On a large scale, use of solar panels requires that the generation of solar power incorporates a fuse box from which the current flows to the appliances. The Fusebox prevents the appliances from getting damaged by surges in electric current.
The solar generation systems that are installed in homes and businesses can include a metering box. This is the device that measures the amount of electric current that the solar panels are generating. Someone can generate solar power in excess and sell to the national grid. The use of the metering set allows the person to know the amount of power to sell. In order to encourage people to generate solar power, and other non-renewable energies, many governments purchase solar power at a high price (Knez & Borut, 26). Energy suppliers can pay a fixed price per unit of power generated while the supplier gets a bonus for the units of power that s/he does not use because s/he sells more to the national grid.
In order to generate more power and do so in a sustainable manner, engineers have improved the solar power generation over the years. The solar panels need to be aligned in such as a way that they obtain the maximum amount of sunshine. For areas in the Northern hemisphere, the panels should slope to align with due south as possible. The optimal angles vary with seasons. For instance in the American state of Iowa, the solar panels are usually tilt at 20-230 during summer. The angle increases to 40-43 during winter (Knez & Borut, 29). On average, many installers place the panels at an angle of 32-350. The panels should also be fixed at or near the pitch of the roof. Modern solar generation systems are adjustable, and one can vary the angel of inclination using motorized maneuvers.
In addition to the alignment conditions, solar power generations sets need enhancement using glass. A sheet of glass protects the semiconductor from wind, wildlife, hail, grit and other destructive materials that can damage them (Benduhn, 18). An anti reflective substance is used to coat the semiconductor in order to enhance panel’s ability to trap solar energy and convert it to electricity instead of scattering it away.
Modern solar power generation systems rely on concentrating the solar rays on strategic spots in order to generate high quantities of power (Benduhn, 25). The systems use mirrors, lenses, and tracking systems to focus light into small beams. The parabolic trough is the commonest Solar Concentration System in place. This system allows for high thermal efficiencies that increase the usability of solar power.
Solar power is highly efficient since it can perform the same functions as mains electricity that is generated from hydro sources or coal. In comparison, solar power uses no fossil fuels in its generation as they do diesel run generator sets and the hydropower generation systems. The photovoltaic systems can last for 25 to 40 years (Gevorkian, 23). The systems are also cheap to install and maintain. In most cases, installers incur the heaviest costs at installation and minimal thereafter. In most cases, investments in solar power usually give investors a full return after 8 years.
Solar power installation is cheaper than most of the other alternatives. In 2011, the cost of solar power installation was cheaper than that of nuclear power. The risks involved in the installation and maintenance also vary considerably with solar power having minimal risks of catastrophic failure (Gevorkian, 28). Since solar power generation is fully reliant on sunshine, places and times with minimal sunshine translate to minimal generation of power. For instance, during winter solar power generation systems generate almost no electricity forcing people to use alternative sources such as hydropower through the mains electricity (Gevorkian, 29). However, during sunshine and for countries in the tropics, solar power can be a reliable source of power throughout the year.
Solar power does not lead to emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxides and methane. Although there is controversy that the production of solar panels leads production of the same, the overall impact of using solar energy is the reduction in the human carbon footprint. Solar energy is a reliable source, whose generation and usage are friendly to the environment.
Solar power refers to the power obtained by harnessing the sun’s energy. Solar power can be used for heating purposes in thermal system or in the generation of electricity. The solar panels are made of semiconductor materials, and when the suns energy strikes the panels, it dislodges some electrons from their atoms. Since the semiconductor has positive and terminals, the free electrons flow as current. The resultant current is direct current, which can be converted to Alternating Current. The entire process of generating solar power produces minimal green house gases if any. The system I also cheap to maintain although it can be extremely expensive to install. The generation and usage of solar power does not use fossil fuels, and this means that it reduces he human carbon footprint. Moreover, the presence of abundant sun in the tropics increases the reliability of solar power. Modern technologies have increased the efficiency of solar power generation with parabolics. As such, solar power is an energy-efficient way of conserving the environment.
Benduhn, Tea. Solar power. Pleasantville, NY: Weekly Reader Pub., 2009. Print.
Gevorkian, Peter. Large-scale solar power system design: an engineering guide for grid-connected solar power generation. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011. Print.
Knez, Matjaž, and Borut Jereb. "Solar power plants – Alternative sustainable approach to greener environment: A case of Slovenia." Sustainable Cities and Society 6 (2013): 27-32. Print.
Thanju, Jeewan P.. "Solar Power." Hydro Nepal: Journal of Water, Energy and Environment 8.0 (2012): 45-49. Print.