What is solar power?

Have you ever been standing by the coffee machine, waiting for your morning coffee, watching the sun come up, and thought, “Why can’t I use that to power stuff?” Well, actually, you can. That is the basic idea behind solar power: to use the energy of the sun to generate electrical power. After all, the sun is just one gigantic ball of energy. The best thing is that the sun is one gigantic ball of available energy. Since the sun eventually shines just about anywhere on the globe (with a few exceptions), it is a much more readily available source than, say, natural gas and petroleum. That also makes it a much cheaper source of energy.

Another plus of solar energy is that it generates direct current (DC) voltage. While most household appliances are currently run on alternating current (AC) voltage sources, many contain a built-in rectifier (a rectifier is a circuit that converts AC to DC, shown below). If connected to a DC source, that rectification process is no longer necessary, thus simplifying the production of appliances.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a3/RC_Filter.png/400px-RC_Filter.png

Solar energy can also be defined as a sustainable form of energy. That is, it does not put future generations in jeopardy. Since there is little to no likelihood that we will run out of sunlight in many years to come, future generations can utilize solar power at the same level we now use it, and probably even higher as the technology evolves.

As well as being sustainable, solar energy is also a renewable energy source, since we can keep utilizing it as long as the sun exists. Some other forms of renewable energy include wind power and hydroelectricity, since they both use resources that we’re not running out of. In fact, the only thing that really changes is the method by which the turbine is powered. For instance, a hydroelectric turbine is powered by a waterfall that turns the motor and generates electricity. A wind turbine, on the other hand is turned by wind. Solar panels, however, actual use semiconductors to convert the solar radiation directly into electricity. That’s it! No generator necessary.

So here are just a few things about solar power. As research continues, no doubt technology will advance as it always does. Given the current findings, solar power definitely seems to be one of the better alternatives to our current methods of electrical generation. Aside from the simplicity of the design, the source is perhaps the most sustainable source of energy one could ever require.