Advantages and Disadvantages of Utilizing Solar Power

While some tend to look at solar energy to be a cornucopia, others will sometimes look upon solar power as a blessing that is too hard or costly to benefit from. Energy from the sun can be utilized to heat water for domestic use, to generate usable electricity and to cook through the usage of solar ovens. Some jurisdictions are even utilizing the sun's energy to desalinate ocean water to be used for watering and to replenish the water table. Every second, the sun is bombarding our world with energy equivalent to 1,000 watts per square meter, or about 100 watts per square foot. This energy is free for the taking-- it's the taking part that can be both challenging and costly.

There are a number of advantages to making use of the sun's energy. First of all, there's no air pollution. You're not burning anything to create it. If you wish to convert the solar power into electricity, all you need to do is to stick photovoltaic panels out in the sun, and connect up specific devices to make the electrical energy the panels produce usable. If you want to transform the solar energy into heat, to heat water, or to prepare meals, or heat your house, all you need is a solar energy collector. This can be something as easy as a coil of copper tubing for a do it yourself hot water heating unit, or a metal box with a pane of thermal glass on the top for a solar oven.

Electrical power produced by solar cells is free. Except for the upfront expenses of the panels and the equipment that I mentioned previously, the electrical power is free. Unlike electrical energy produced by fossil fuels. You have to pay for every watt of power produced if you use fossil fuels to supply your electricity.

If you live in a location that is too far from existing power lines, solar power is a possible option to your electrical energy issues. In addition to wind power, solar power generation can be done just about anywhere, and is scalable.

Solar energy is great for the desalinization of water. While it is possible to desalinate water utilizing special filters, utilizing the sun in a passive system can provide a limitless supply of clean, salt-free water free of charge, after the initial expenses of planning and constructing the solar desalination plant. Salt water is pumped into a specially designed container and is exposed to the sun. The sun's energy is transformed into heat, and the container and its contents are heated up to the boiling point of salt water. The steam produced is drawn into a cooling tower where it condenses into clean drinkable water. The residue left behind in the heating container is primarily salt. It can be "harvested", purified, and sold a profit.

Doing all these things using the sun's energy isn't simple or inexpensive. Solar panels are not inexpensive (though they are getting more affordable), so generating your own electrical power can involve a large preliminary investment. The panels are normally guaranteed for 20 years. The guarantee generally guarantees that the solar cells will be producing over 80 percent of the preliminary peak wattage ranking when you bought and installed them. After 20 years, the cells will lose their ability to produce electrical power at a rate of about 1 to 2 percent each year. The equipment required to transform the electrical energy they generate can be pricey and should be installed by an expert. Lastly, the panels have to be positioned in precisely the right location (in the direct sun and placed in such a way as to make the most of the sun exposure) in order to attain good results.

The performance of solar energy is determined by your location. Places near the equator, between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, will experience year-round direct sunlight. Moving away from the equator means the sunshine comes in at an angle. The higher the angle, the less powerful the sunlight. Undoubtedly, climate also has to be taken into account. While numerous photovoltaic panels can generate power even on overcast days, the amount of power is significantly less than on warm days. Locating in a place where the number of hours of sunlight is high is far better than a place that is known for numerous rainy or snowy days. Places north of the arctic circle are not likely to achieve excellent year round results, because for a number of months of the year, the sun never ever goes much above the horizon.

Finally (and this would seem apparent), your location only gets sunshine for part of the day. During the night, your solar panels won't produce a single watt of electricity, and your passive solar hot water heater won't produce any warm water. You must consider energy (and hot water) storage for overnight periods, or periods of harsh weather. Your solar panels will need to not only produce enough electrical power for usage in the day, but enough for the overnight period also. Same with the hot water heating system. It must produce sufficient hot water for both daytime and nighttime use.

Free solar power isn't free, however once the preliminary expenses are dealt with, except for periodic maintenance, the continuing cost is zilch. Is solar energy the best option for you? Only you can decide.

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