How are Solar Panels an Eco-Friendly Energy Option?

The energy crisis is not an American problem, but a global one which has the potential to impact every facet of our daily lives. The nations of the world have been working round-the-clock for solutions that will allow them to keep energy supplies endlessly available. At the same time, wastage of available energy and continuing dependence on non-renewable sources undermine all of these efforts and prevent significant development in the situation.

There is a silver lining though, especially in geographical locations that are blessed with plentiful sunshine, where initiatives are in place to harness this abundant and never-ending source of energy. To understand why going solar is the best option for you, start by learning how solar panels work and why they are a green option.

How They Work

The energy that we receive from the sun over a single hour is enough to power the Earth for a whole year. If we could harness this incredible power, the global energy crisis can become a thing of the past. But how exactly can this power be harnessed and transformed into a form that we can use in our homes? This requires photovoltaic (PV) cells that are mounted on your solar panels. This is how your solar panels work:

  • The PV (or solar) cells in your solar panel are made of special materials termed as semiconductors. Silicon is the most commonly used semiconductor in PV cells.
  • The solar panel is mounted on your roof or in a location where maximum sunlight is likely to fall upon it. The more the sunlight falling on the solar panel, the more the power you can generate.
  • When the sunlight falls on the PV cells, a portion of it is absorbed by the semiconductor material. In other words energy is absorbed by the semiconductor.
  • This absorbed energy helps to loosen the electrons in the layer of the semiconductor.
  • There are one or more electric fields present in the PV cells. These fields force the free electrons to move in a certain direction, thus producing current.
  • We can use this current for charging external objects by placing metal contacts on the top and the bottom of a PV cell.
  • The amount of power a PV cell is capable of producing depends upon the sum total of this current and the cell’s voltage.


The Clean Energy Advantage

The diminishing sources of energy are just one side of the coin. There is yet another problem in this equation that is often overlooked. Many of the energy sources that we use today are not environment-friendly at all. In fact, many of the renewable energy sources that are in vogue today leave a detrimental impact on the environment. By installing solar panels, Tampa residents are taking the right step towards embracing an energy source that is not only a worthy alternative to its traditional counterparts, but is eco-friendly as well. There are many ways in which solar power is the cleaner, greener choice:

  • Unlike energy from coal-fired processes solar energy does not result in harmful carbon emissions that increase global warming or atmospheric pollution. Statistically speaking, 1 kilowatt (KW) of solar energy prevents 300 pounds of carbon from entering the atmosphere.
  • Solar power also saves water, another natural resource that is getting scarcer by the day. Research shows that generating electricity using solar panels lets you save almost 90 percent water when you compare it with energy production from coal.
  • The oil stock of the world is being depleted at a fast pace and statistics show that if we continue to consume this resource at the same pace we are all set to run out of oil over the next four decades. Coal will be exhausted in about 140 years. Switching to solar energy can help slow down this depletion so that these resources are available for use for a longer period and for critical needs when other alternatives are not viable.
  • Studies have also shown that solar energy is a healthy option for humans because it represents far less toxicity than other power production processes that are in use currently. The use of fossil fuels (natural fuels like coal, gas etc.) results in water, air and also land pollution. This impacts not just humans but all living creatures. For example, mercury pollution resulting from coal firing is responsible for high levels of mercury in fish, making them dangerous for consumption. Fish consumption advisory warning people of this danger has been issued by several states across the US. Switching to solar power prevents this all-round pollution and allows every living being on the planet to lead a healthier life.

At present our energy consumption is over a hundred trillion kilowatt hours per year. Researchers predict that by the 2030- 2040 decade, this consumption will double and by the time the 22nd century is here, the figure is all set to quadruple. At the same time, studies are indicating that our energy efficiency is worsening at a dramatic rate. Our carbon-dioxide emissions are at record highs, spelling disaster for the environment. Action needs to be taken now and in such a way that it can address these multiple issues while giving us a source of power that is virtually unlimited. Going solar is the perfect solution that fulfills all these needs.

SOURCE: http://tech.co/how-solar-panels-work-2015-10