Solar energy is the radiant light and heat from the Sun that has been harnessed by humans since ancient times using a range of ever-evolving technologies. Solar radiation along with secondary solar resources such as wind, wave power, hydroelectricity and biomass accounts for most of the available renewable energy on Earth. Only a minuscule fraction of the available solar energy is used.
The sun's heat and light provide an abundant source of energy that can be harnessed in many ways. There are a variety of technologies that have been developed to take advantage of solar energy. These include concentrating solar power systems, passive solar heating and day lighting, photovoltaic systems, solar hot water, and solar process heat and space heating and cooling.
Solar power can be used in both large-scale applications and in smaller systems for the home. Businesses and industry can diversify their energy sources, improve efficiency, and save money by choosing solar technologies for heating and cooling, industrial processes, electricity, and water heating. Solar power technologies, from individual home systems to large-scale concentrating solar power systems, have the potential to help meet growing energy needs and provide diversity and reliability in energy supplies.
Solar Photovoltaic :
Photovoltaic has been derived from the combination of two words, "Photo" and "Voltaic". Photo means light and Voltaic means electricity. It is a technology that converts light directly into electricity. Photovoltaic material, most commonly highly purified silicon converts sunlight directly into electricity.
Solar Thermal :
Solar energy can be converted to thermal (or heat) energy and used to heat water for use in homes, buildings, or swimming pools and heat spaces inside greenhouses, homes, and other buildings. Solar thermal devices are used for a variety of purposes ranging from heating swimming pools to creating steam for generating electricity.
Advantages of Solar Energy :
- Solar Energy is clean, renewable, sustainable and environment friendly.
- Reduce global warming as it does not pollute air by releasing carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide or mercury into the atmosphere like many traditional forms of electrical generation does.
- Actively contributes to the decrease of harmful green house gas emissions.
- After the initial investment has been recovered, the energy from the sun is practically free.
- Solar energy systems are virtually maintenance free and will last for decades.
- No fuel, no recurring cost, no moving parts, modular and reliable systems.
- Solar energy supports local job and wealth creation, fuelling local economies.