What is solar power?

Solar power is energy which comes from the sun. This energy is very powerful and hits the earth regardless of whether or not we take advantage of it. Even the tiny percentage of sunlight that touches the earth is plenty to meet the energy and power needs of the entire human population more than 8,500 times over.

The only concern is learning how to collect this energy efficiently. Today there are many different technologies which exist to achieve this goal. Due to concerns of the availability of traditional energy sources, many people today are interested in further developing renewable energy technologies, such as solar devices.

For this reason it is sensible to expect continual improvement of existing solar technology and the invention of new solar power devices over the next few decades.

What is solar power technology doing to harness the energy from the sun?

Solar power technology captures energy from the sun in a variety of ways.
Here are some examples:

•Solar cells- Also known as photoelectric or photovoltaic cells, these are the most common devices that turn sunlight into electricity. Solar cells are combined into modules of which solar panels are comprised.
•Solar water heaters- Basically, heat from the sun is used to heat water through glass panels which are installed on roofs, known as solar collectors. Solar collectors deal with heat from the sun (solar thermal energy) as opposed to light.
•Solar furnaces: Solar furnaces use many strategically placed reflective surfaces, like mirrors, in order to concentrate all of the sunlight into a single point. This small space of concentrated energy creates an extreme amount of heat which can be used for making electricity, melting steel, or creating hydrogen fuel.

What is solar power offering that makes it such an appealing energy source?

•Solar energy is a completely free and inexhaustible fuel source
•No fuel, waste, or pollution is expelled in its usage.
•In remote areas, or small villages, solar power can be the saving grace. Sometimes it is the only realistic way to provide energy to a place that is not capable of drawing energy from other sources.
•It can be used for low-power purposes as well as larger ones- from battery chargers, hand-held calculators, and solar powered garden lights to air conditioning, cars, and satellites.
•Sunlight is provided regardless of whether we use it or not. There is no need to process sunlight beyond the amount which a solar cell or solar collector is capable of doing (unlike fossil fuels or even other alternative energy sources, such as biomass.)