You may have heard about the advantages of solar energy, but do you know what solar energy is, exactly? The theme is commonly mentioned in classrooms, books, research, documentaries, television newspapers, etc, all always highlighting its importance for planet Earth, in addition to the advantages for the common consumer – including in relation to saving money.
In addition to being a renewable source, the generation of electricity through solar energy does not emit components that are harmful to the planet’s atmosphere, unlike what happens with the use of fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, and petroleum derivatives – harmful to the planet by releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). It is noteworthy that the use of fossil fuels to generate energy is one of the main causes of global warming, directly linked to the Earth’s climate change, and scientists have been warning of a global climate emergency for years.
In addition, the operational costs of using solar energy in homes or offices are practically nil after installing the equipment, since it is not necessary to use any other type of energy source, in addition to sunlight, to guarantee the electricity of the place. A growing number of homes, businesses, and industries are turning to solar energy for electricity, helping the planet and reducing costs.
What is solar energy?
The Sun is the most abundant source of energy on Earth since the start of the Solar System does not only play the role of lighting up our days: it generates plenty of energy to be captured and converted into electricity, continuously and without risk to run out.
Because of all this power from the Sun, scientists have developed a way to use the sun’s rays that hit the Earth to convert them into energy to power our equipment. The production of solar energy, then, happens when the sun’s rays “hit” the cells of photovoltaic solar panels, made with semiconductor materials (such as silicon, for example).
These cells absorb part of the photons from the sun’s rays, and the photons stimulate the electrons present there so that they start moving, spreading through the panel and, thus, generating a continuous electrical current. Direct current can be stored in batteries as they are produced, or be converted into alternating current for use in networks such as a public power grid, for example, as well as in homes.
These solar panels, also known as photovoltaic panels or photovoltaic panels, are composed of two different types of silicon photovoltaic cells for generating positive and negative charges, these relying on tiny atoms that are charged with electrons.
The panels have 3.2 mm tempered glass and are resistant to hail, in case of heavy rain, and can last for more than 25 years. They can be used for both domestic, residential, and commercial, and industrial use and an increasing number of people are investing in this technology, either to help the planet or to save on energy consumption at home.
In addition to electrical energy, solar energy can also be converted into thermal energy. This happens when the sun’s heat is used for heating, producing steam or hot water for homes, buildings, and swimming pools. This steam, by the way, can also be used to produce electricity.
The generation of thermal energy happens when mirrors or reflectors concentrate the sun’s rays to heat a liquid. Then, when that liquid boils due to the heat, it turns into steam, which turns a turbine connected to a generator, eventually producing electricity. In a new process, the steam is cooled again, turning into a liquid that is recycled, reheated, and turned into steam again, in a continuous process.
Solar energy costs
Thinking about saving electricity, the idea of installing solar panels in homes and businesses is tempting. “There are many competitive financing offers for a family or a company to install the photovoltaic system on their roofs, replacing the energy bill with the installments of the loan for 5 years, and then getting energy ‘free’ for the rest of the equipment’s life. . And there are also modalities that allow consumers to ‘subscribe’ to solar energy, receiving credits on their bills from remote plants, through the energy distribution concessionaire’s network, without the need for works or investments”,
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