We get constant supply of solar energy from the sun. Observers believe that the energy from the sun has the potential to satisfy the world’s energy requirements. Energy from the solar is free, and we can never deplete solar energy. However, majorities experience challenges in harnessing solar energy.
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Scientists discovered that they could generate electric energy from the solar. We can attribute the first attempt towards harnessing solar energy to Edmund Becquerel in 1839. The French physicist noted that there was photovoltaic effect from the sun. Later, Albert Einstein made discoveries and presented his explanation for the photoelectric effect of the sun in 1990s.
There are two ways of using solar energy. These are in the forms of photovoltaic and thermal. Thermal approach relies on converting sunlight into heat. Heat then works in steam generators that convert it into electricity for domestic and industrial use (Lovegrove and Dennis, 2006). Photovoltaic involves direct production of electricity without involving machinery or moving parts. Photovoltaic has silicon cells. The cells produce electric energy when solar strikes them. Many cells create a solar panel, and panels form an array. Many arrays create an array field.
There are many merits associated with photovoltaic energy. These advantages make solar energy one of the cleanest, non-pollutant and renewable energy in the world. It does not involve much maintenance and supervision. Thus, the running costs of photovoltaic energy are negligible. Solar energy is suitable for rural areas because it does not require large-scale installation. Solar energy has many advantages over other forms of renewable energy such as hydro energy and wind energy. This is because these forms of renewable energy involve moving parts that wear out in the long run.
Solar energy has gained popularity in the recent past (Singh, 1999). Attentions have shifted to solar energy has an alternative to hydro and fossil energies as their costs increase. Still, most scientists have dedicated their times in efforts of harnessing solar energy for large-scale exploitation (CSIRO, 2011).
On the other hand, solar energy has two main disadvantages. First, the initial costs of equipment and installation may be high. In addition, the amounts of sunlight vary from one region to region i.e. there are areas of high and low solar intensities.
We can reduce the cost of solar energy by enhancing cell efficiency (Solar Energy in Australia, 2010). This will enable solar energy be an excellent option for majorities.
CSIRO 2011, Australia’s largest solar thermal research hub, Web.
Lovegrove, K and Dennis, M 2006, ‘Solar thermal energy systems in Australia’, International Journal of Environmental Studies, vol. 63, no. 6, pp. 791-802.
Singh, D 1999, ‘Renewable Energy Technologies in Australia and New Zealand’, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, vol. 4596, pp. 4-42.
Solar Energy in Australia 2010, Web.