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Solar Energy, Research Paper Example

Pages: 9

Words: 2368

Research Paper

Abstract

Solar energy is a source of energy that results from the trapping of sun’s energy and stored or converted to another source of energy like electricity. In the recent past, there has been an increase in the demand for change from the traditional sources of energy like the coal and petroleum to use of newer technologies like the solar energy which is cleaner and cheaper. Again, due to the fear of exhaustion of petroleum deposits, the world has turned to solar power which is renewable and can not be exhausted. Solar technology started in the ancient Egypt and has been developing until a solar cell was produced. It started with the primitive form of harnessing solar energy which was passive solar techniques to active solar harnessing techniques like the ones used today. Many countries including the United States of America have embraced the solar technology with most of the making legislations and policies which are favorable for the growth of the solar energy (Walter, 218). Solar energy is likely to replace oil as a source of energy because it is cheap to produce, it is less degrading to the environment and it is renewable hence no fear of its exhaustion as opposed to other sources of energy.

Introduction

Solar energy is got by harnessing of the radiant heat and light from the sun and converted to electrical energy. It can also be got from secondary resources which are solar powered for example wave power and wind, biomass and hydroelectricity. The most common characteristic of this energy from sun whether got directly from the radiation itself or from the secondary source like the hydroelectricity is that they are all renewable. They are also the most available source of energy on earth. The amount of solar energy used currently is only a fraction of the total available solar energy hence there is a huge potential for the expansion of solar energy.

The solar powered electricity generation uses mainly photovoltaics. This energy has a lot of applications which include solar cooling, solar architecture, solar water disinfection and distillation, solar water heaters and industrial production of high temperature heat processes using solar (Walter, 423). The most commonly used gadget in harvesting solar energy is the solar panels. The panels are divided into two groups, namely, the passive solar and the active solar. This division is based on the way they arrest the solar energy, convert it and how the power is distributed. The active solar panels include the use of panels which are photovoltaic and also collectors for solar thermal. Solar techniques which are passive include things like orientation of buildings in a manner that they are facing the sun and selection of materials which have thermal mass which is favorable or good light dispensing properties and also making spaces that allow air to circulate naturally.

History of Solar Energy

Discovery of Solar Energy

Use of solar as a source of power and energy started in ancient Egypt. The Egyptians built living places which allowed storage of energy from sun in the day and then release the energy at night in the form of heat. This enabled them to store enough heat for the night during the day without the temperature of the building rising during the day. The heat would then be released at night. The ancient Egyptians also used the sun as a source of energy for mummification process, with the sun’s energy drying the body being preserved. These are forms of passive solar techniques for harnessing solar power. During the third century in BC, some Greek soldiers used mirrors to focus light on the feet of roman soldiers with the help of Archimedes (Ewers, 128).

The mirrors concentrated energy from the sun on the soldiers’ feet making them to burn. The Greeks were doing this to force the Roman soldiers to retreat and hence prepare themselves for the attack. The method worked well. This is also an example of passive solar energy harnessing technique. In 100 A.D, Pliny, a historical writer in Italy built a house which had mica windows in one of the rooms. The mica windows stored heat during the day and released it at night. The room became useful in that the heat it released reduced the amount of wood which was supposed to be burnt to generate the desired heat in the room. In Rome, bathhouses were constructed with their windows facing south for the purpose of heating the rooms. Native Americas too build houses which used passive solar power techniques. They built them on the sides of hills or cliffs for them to trap suns heat during the day and then release it later during the night (Ewers, 265).

Various Systems Used in History for Harnessing Solar Power

In the year 1767, the first solar collector in the world was built by a scientist called Horace de Saussare. Later in the year 1839, a French national called Edmond Becquerei observed the photoelectric effect. Forty one years after the observation of Edmond, photoelectric cells were made and consisted of selenium. They had an efficiency of 1-2% t. In the year 1891, Clarence kemp made the first commercial water heater which was using solar energy. Later, in the year 1908, William J. Bailley made an invention of a solar collector containing copper coils and a box which was insulated. In 1950, production of high purity crystalline silicon began. This was one of the greatest achievements of the United States scientists towards the achievement of a cheap renewable energy. It brought a lot of completion to the oil industry which was very expensive, not as clean as the solar energy and had a lot of politics in it.

Photovoltaic

Photovoltaics are a method for generation of electric energy by use of solar cells for the change of energy from the sun to electricity. The photovoltaic effect is used to refer to light photons knocking electrons to a state of energy which is at a higher level of energy hence creating electricity. All photovoltaic devices are a form of photodiode.

The Current Technology

Solar photovoltaics are made up of arrays of cells which contain materials that are able to convert radiation from the sun into electricity of the alternating current type. The materials used currently on these photovoltaic cells are polycrystalline silicon, amorphous silicon, cadmium telluride, microcrystalline silicon and copper indium sulfide. This is the fastest growing energy technology in the world. The current capacity of solar photovoltaic power stations ranges between ten to sixty megawatts. The cost of making photovoltaics has declined in the recent years due to advances in technology since the manufacture of the first solar cell. Today, the photovoltaic technology is used in the power generation connected to the grid.

An inverter is used here to convert the energy produced from the solar which in direct current electricity into alternating current. The photovoltaic cells are also used off the grid in a smaller percentage in boats, remote dwellings, electric cars, and recreational vehicles, emergency telephones on the roadside, pipeline protection systems and in remote sensing. The cells are protected from the environment by packaging them behind a glass sheet very tightly. If the power needed is more than what a single cell can produce, the cells are connected together electrically forming solar panels or photovoltaic modules. One such module can power adequately an emergency telephone. For a power plant or house, the modules are arranged in multiples (arrays).

Future Technology

The PV (photovoltaic) technology has a big potential of making a very major contribution to a sustainable energy supply to the world. There has been a lot of increase in research and advancement in solar energy in the current technology but there is as well a need to increase the research, develop the solar energy more and new strategies are needed for it to achieve its full potential. The future vision of the photovoltaic technology is to provide energy on a large-scale but at a lower price, to achieve the objective of a reliable, clean and affordable energy to all people of America and the rest of the world (Gordon, 173). This will support the policy of America in both climate and energy policies. It aims at supplying about four percent of the world’s energy at a very competitive price. This would create about two hundred thousand to four hundred thousand jobs in the United States of America and more jobs in the rest of the world. It also helps in the environmental conservation since it doesn’t release carbon dioxide lie the use of oil as the energy source. Carbon dioxide emission has been implicated in the environmental degradation and climatic change.

Trends in Solar Energy Development and Acceptance

Solar energy has been undergoing a lot of revolution in terms of its development and its acceptance. There have been many factors that have led to these revolutions which include global and domestic issues. The global issues include the gulf war of the year 1980 which renewed the interest for the use of sun’s energy as an alternative source of energy instead of use oil and other petroleum products as a source of energy. The oil embargo in the year 1973 to 1974 allowed the solar power an opportunity to advance and flourish. Due to the oil embargo, the government of the United States, department of energy started funding the federal PV (photovoltaic) utilization program which began installing and testing about three thousand photovoltaic systems. This incentive led to the development of about one hundred and fifty businesses for manufacturing industry, making an annual sale of about one billion United States dollars annually.

Again, the need for more energy during the world war two led to an increase in research in the solar energy. This was because most countries wanted their soldiers to have a constant and an uninterrupted power supply which could be interrupted by lack of transport for oil. at this time, there was a crisis when soldiers were blocked by their enemies from getting supplies from their mother countries hence causing problems. To solve this, most countries embarked on research and use of solar energy as an alternative to the petroleum and its products as a source of energy. The domestic issues which led to revolution in the development of solar energy and its acceptance included the change in the united states energy policy which saw the introduction of a few tax credits and incentives for electric solar homes and heating systems of solar leading to about one million and two hundred thousands homes built with solar installations.

Solar Expansion and Applications

Since its inception, solar energy has under gown a tremendous expansion from the ancient use of solar energy as a source of energy for mummification of bodies and heating of rooms at nights to use as a source of electricity and water heating. It has broadened its applications to use in residential buildings as a source of electricity. In the residence places, energy harnessed from the sun can be used in cooing using electric heaters, can be used in driving small electronic gadgets at home like computers and televisions, ironing among others. It is also used in heating of water either directly or indirectly. Directly is where the heat energy trapped from the sun directly heats water using pipes which absorb heat efficiently from the sun then the hot water stored in insulated tans and used for functions like bathing.

Heating water indirectly is where the electric energy harnessed by the photovoltaic cells and panels is converted to heat energy by use of heaters and then the heat energy used to heat water up. Solar energy is also used currently in the transportation systems with cars using solar energy as their sole source of energy. This has made it cheaper for the transportation industry due to the easy availability of solar power and cheapness in its production. There has also been change in the domestic power policy with the government giving subsidies and incentives to the solar power generating plants. There has been a decrease in the tax levied on the solar apparatus making it easy for solar power companies to invest more in the solar technology.

By this, the government has enabled the growth of the solar technology making it an easy option and a replacement of the generally used source of power, the petroleum and its products. the government of the united states of America has invested more and changed its policies to favor use of solar power as a source of energy due to its immerse advantages (Berhman, 167). There have been many advances in the solar technology, starting with the primitive solar haters for a house which was passive to the current use of sun’s energy as a source of electricity. This has caused the production of electric energy less expensively while not worrying of exhausting it or causing environmental degradation. Increase in taxation for emissions lie carbon dioxide which degrades the environment has also lead to the advancement in the solar technology.

Summary

The discovery of use of solar energy as an alternative to use of oil and petroleum has great boost to the current economic and business world since it has very many advantages. These advantages include the following. First, solar energy is renewable and it is not exhaustible. Therefore manufactures can use it without fearing that it may get exhausted. Again, it produces less carbon dioxide therefore less effect on environment. As opposed to the use of petroleum, it doesn’t need to be transported to other places for its consumption thus not vulnerable to hitches in transport lie during wars. it is also cheap to produce it compared to production of energy using coal and petroleum therefore making the use of solar as a source of energy very convenient for most people. In conclusion, the solar technology may replace use of other sources of energy due to it’s immerse advantages.

Works Cited

Behrman, Daniel. “Solar energy”: the awakening science. US: Taylor & Francis publishers.435 pages. 2003.

Ewers, Williams. “Photovoltaics: design and installation manual”: renewable energy education for a sustainable future, New Society Publishers. 317 pages, 2004

Gordon, Jeffrey. “Solar Energy”: the state of the art: ISES position papers. London: Earth scans publishers. 2001. 276 pages.

Walter, Jefferson. “The solar economy”: renewable energy for a sustainable global future. 2004. The University of Michigan. 567 pages

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