While you’re probably familiar with the exciting potential of solar energy, you may not be as familiar with how solar actually works. In our daily lives, we rely on the sun’s light and heat for almost everything from daylight to wake us up in the morning, to photosynthesis for our crops and even our own personal production of Vitamin D. Capturing sunlight for energy is also an interesting scientific process. Let’s start with a quick overview of how solar energy is captured and utilized for everyday use.
How Solar Energy Works
Radiant light and heat from the sun is captured through solar panels and other new technology. If you live in a sunny area, you might see these panels of the roofs of homes. These panels are photovoltaic which means they are capable of producing electric current from the absorption of natural light. This energy capture process is done through the many smaller solar cells that make up each panel. These cells are able to convert the energy of light directly into usable electricity via the photovoltaic effect.
When it comes to generating solar power on a large scale, solar farms are becoming increasingly popular. Solar farms are one of several sources for Powervine Energy to either purchase renewable energy directly or purchase carbon offsets in order to support the growth of solar farms. These farms are owned and operated by independent power producers and are often comprised of hundreds—if not thousands—of individual, industrial solar panels. They are designed to supply solar energy over a wide area by feeding electricity directly on the power grid.
Solar rooftop panels are not an option for everyone, however there are more and more opportunities to purchase solar powered household items that will help you lower your energy bill. Mini photovoltaic panels generate enough energy to power cell phones and decorative outdoor lighting. It is also a nice learning tool for children to observe the energy of the sun harnessed to power a lantern or charge a phone. Here are some of the more popular solar tech items.
Flashlights & Radios
Patio and pathway lights
Solar Energy’s Social Good
There are a few different charities with programs to “Give a Light” to a family in a developing country or after a hurricane destroys an electrical grid. LuminAID has distributed 50,000 lights across 100 countries for disaster relief or for communities without any or reliable power sources. In some places, these solar powered lanterns replace kerosene lanterns, which are dangerous and toxic when used indoors.
SolarAid also focuses on replacing kerosene lanterns with solar powered light in Africa. SolarAid’s research shows that 598 million people in Africa have no access to electricity and solar provides a cleaner and less expensive source of light for families.
Weather and short winter days might affect how many hours a day the sun shines brightly, but we can always count on our reliable renewable power source, the sun. At Powervine Energy, we purchase energy from renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind and hydroelectric power for our customers as part of all our plans.