Updated: Aug 15, 2021
Thousands of Australian families, individuals and businesses rely on solar for affordable power, But what exactly is solar energy and how does it work? Let us dig in a little to learn more about Solar power.
What is solar energy?
Solar energy is radiant light and heat from the sun that is harnessed using a range of ever-evolving technologies such as solar heating, photovoltaics, solar thermal electricity, and solar architecture to produce useful energy. Solar technologies are broadly characterized as either passive solar or active depending on the way they capture. Passive solar means using sunlight without any additional energy, in contrast, active solar means to harness the energy and convert it into another form of use.
The basic principle behind solar energy has been known for centuries, in ancient Greece and China people used mirrors to concentrate sunlight on dark stone walls resulting in higher temperatures and humidity. In 1742 French physicist Jacques Charles proposed that a very large parabolic mirror could heat water to drive steam engines
How is it Generated?
Solar technology can be used to generate electricity by heating a fluid which in turn runs a turbine that generates electricity Solar heat can also be used for industrial processes or heating.
The temperature of the fluid, or air is turned into heat energy. This is done by using either photovoltaic panels to convert sunlight directly into electricity, and/or solar thermal collectors which use selective absorption of infrared radiation to generate heat. The hot air or water then drives a turbine connected to an electric generator.
Solar power plants have several components, which are the solar thermal energy plant and a solar photovoltaic power plant.The combination of other renewable or non-renewable sources with solar is called hybrid power system.
The first solar technology was developed in the 1870s when it was discovered that carbon could be heated using light from a sun lamp, which could drive a turbine connected to a generator.
Uses of Solar
Solar is not only used to generate electricity, it also has many other uses including
Trapping heat: Many homes in Australia are fitted with solar hot water systems, which use sunlight to turn water into a hot liquid that can be used for heating water or air.
Solar ventilation: is the control and management of indoor air quality, thermal comfort, lighting and energy consumption in buildings. Air is drawn from outside and passes through a solar collector where it gains heat before being vented to the occupied space or extracted for other uses
Solar transport: is the use of solar energy to power vehicles.
Reducing pollution: Solar can be used to reduce smog by using solar chimneys and greenhouses with solar panels. It also lets you use less coal, oil and gas which pollutes the air.
In conclusion, solar powered housing is the best choice for sustainable living! Solar panels convert energy from sunlight into electricity, meaning you can keep your lights on without worrying about changing out batteries or using a generator. Not only does this make it convenient to use all day long, but also cuts down on pollution and eliminates carbon emissions by not having an outside power source running off fossil fuels.