Sun’s energy, rather than fossil fuels is used to generate low-cost, environmentally friendly thermal/electric energy. A drastic increase has been witnessed in households, businesses, industries and transportation use of eco-friendly means of power generation via solar energy. With increasing awareness in general public regarding the damage to environment caused by fossil fuel usage, it is imperative that the world will see increase in solar energy systems in recent future.
Mechanism of solar energy generation:
Two main mechanisms exist for power generation using solar energy; Photo Voltaic (PV) Cells and Thermal. In Photo Voltaic Cells, commonly known as solar panels, voltage is generated when the panel is exposed to solar energy. The bird proof solar panels utilize doped semiconductors which develop a potential difference when exposed to photons in sunlight. This potential difference is equivalent to a battery that can be used to run electrical appliances. In thermal solar energy generation, water is heated using concentrated heat from sun and the steam produced is then used to power a generator that produces electricity.
Most of the benefits of both the mechanisms described above are common to both the methods, whereas some benefits are unique to the energy generation mechanism employed. Following are some of the most important benefits:
- Solar energy is regarded as renewable source of energy which means that the solar energy received by the earth per day is not going to reduce anytime in near future.
- Fossil fuels carry a cost that one has to pay per unit of fuel even after paying for power generating system. Solar power generation mechanisms, however, only have initial cost associated with installation. The sunlight, available freely, makes running the power plant economically much more feasible.
- When fossil fuels are burnt, Carbon Dioxide is produced as a by-product. Scientists have recently concluded that increasing levels of Carbon Dioxide in our atmosphere is leading to abnormal warming, known as global warming. This would make earth uninhabitable for our future generations. Thus, it is of paramount importance that fossil fuel power generation be replaced with solar power as soon as possible.
- In solar power generation, if one solar panel develops a fault, the whole system does not need to be turned off. Instead the panel can be replaced while the whole system is functional.
- Solar Panels are mainly composed of Silicon which is used due to its semiconductor properties. This silicon is extracted and purified from sand. This means that even with whole world’s electricity needs coming from solar panels, the price of solar panels would not increase.
In conclusion, it is evident solar energy generation has many benefits not found in other energy generation mechanisms. With rapid research and a very active market for solar energy products, the price associated with solar power installation is expected to decrease rapidly. Moreover, countries around the world are formulating policies more conducive to this clean source of energy, paving the way to a cleaner future.