The need for an alternative source of energy was never as important for mankind as it is today. Fossil fuels, which are being used since thousands of years, are about to get exhausted. More importantly, they are contributing to various hazards on the planet, prominent ones being global warming and pollution. In such a scenario, searching for an alternative source of energy, which is a clean, efficient and renewable energy, has become the utmost priority for mankind. One such source of energy is solar energy. Before we move on to how solar energy works, we need to know what is solar energy and whether it’s the right alternative source of power.
What is Solar Energy?
Solar energy is the power generated from the light and heat of the Sun. Solar energy is no doubt an ideal alternative source of energy which can replace notorious fossil fuels. Unlike fossil fuels, solar energy is renewable and if we are successful in harnessing the solar power to its capacity, we can easily solve the power crisis and the related politics all over the world.
Solar Energy as an Alternative Source of Energy
Now, there are a few questions which need to be answered! Is it so easy to harness solar power? Is solar power cost efficient? Can it replace fossil fuels as the prime source of energy? What are the advantages and disadvantages of solar power? More importantly, how solar power works? Most of these questions are debatable at present, but with numerous experiments going on, the answers will become clear very soon. As of now, it’s a major contender for the top spot among the alternative fuels and as we know that fossil fuels are going to exhaust some day or the other, we need to be prepared with an alternative. Let’s move on to see how solar energy works?
How Solar Power Works?
Solar energy works on a simple concept – sunlight is captured, converted to solar power and distributed in the form of electricity. Photovoltaic cells, popularly known as solar cells, are used to capture sunlight.
How Solar Cells Work
Solar cells are generally made from semiconductors, most often silicon. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it can be just be converted from one form into another. In case of solar energy, the energy emitted in the form of heat and light from the sun is captured by the solar panels and turned into electrical energy that is suitable for our use. Solar cells are strategically exposed to the suns rays, so as to derive the maximum possible output. The cells absorb the heat radiated from the sun and convert it to electrical energy.
Coming back to solar power, when the solar rays come into contact with the silicon cells, these cells absorb the energy and free up the electrons. Basically, silicon is filled with impurities, most often phosphorus, to create a negative charge and free electrons. Once freed, the electrons seek positive connections. They get these positive connections on the other side of the solar cell which is positively charged, most often by boron. As the electrons continue going to the other side, an electrical current is created. This current then travels to the electrical contacts on the solar cell and creates voltage. The voltage flows in the form of direct current (DC), and can be stored either in a battery or used with the help of an inverter. Solar batteries store solar energy for later use, while inverters transform DC to AC (alternating current) which can be used through the wiring system in the house.
Assessing how solar energy works is the first step towards the milestone of creating an alternative to the exhaustible sources of energy. Solar power has come a long way as a major contender among the alternative energy sources. Today, we have cars, road lamps, signals, cooking appliances… (the list is quite long) running on solar energy, and it won’t be long before solar energy entirely replaces all the other energy sources, as a major source of energy.