The sun is the most powerful source of energy. An hour of sunlight on earth has more power than what the entire world uses in a year. Considering the fact that the sun won’t be dying out in around another 5 billion years, we’ve got ourselves a pretty reliable source of energy. So how can we make the most out of this gigantic energy source? Although there is a need for better technology, we have already found out ways to convert solar energy into other useful forms.
Nature did it before us
Nature started the process of solar energy conversion billions of years ago through a biochemical reaction called photosynthesis. Plants absorb energy from the sun to process water and carbon dioxide. The released by product, oxygen is used by humans and animals. Numerous research has been done and is still going on to imitate photosynthesis in a controlled man-made environment.
Electricity – The photovoltaic effect
Conversion of solar energy into electricity is one of the most significant and widely used solar energy conversions. This process of generating electricity in a photovoltaic cell (solar panel) when exposed to sunlight is called the photovoltaic effect. Solar panels are widely used today for electricity generation in residential as well as utility-scale power plants.
Using the solar-electricity is an environment-friendly option. Unlike fossil fuels, it doesn’t produce greenhouse gas or other emissions that are harmful to the environment. Not just that, by using solar energy we are also reducing our use of fossil fuels that are a limited natural resource. Though cost and conversion capacity are hurdles for replacing fossil fuels, scientists have already developed new technology and cost-effective solar cells that generate electricity even on gloomy days with moderate temperature.
The dark coloured objects absorb more energy from the sun than the light coloured ones. You must have heard about it or even could possibly have done experiments in your school to prove this theory. When sunlight hits an object, it causes the particles of the object to vibrate leading to thermal energy generation. This energy is radiated in the form of infrared waves which we experience as heat. The conversion of solar energy into thermal energy is based on the theory of the greenhouse effect.
Water can also be heated using sunlight through solar collectors that trap and absorb solar energy. The solar collector is usually a three-layered set-up. The first is a transparent one that lets in the sun rays. The black painted bottom layer absorbs solar energy, which is later converted into heat. There are pipes filled with water between these layers which is heated by this radiated thermal energy. The application of this can be seen in solar water heaters, solar space heaters, solar pool heaters, etc.
Before you convert!
Natural light is something that comes for free and is very often neglected. A well-planned house/apartment/commercial space designed to let in ample natural light will save a great deal of energy and money spent on artificial lighting. Skylights, large sized windows, etc. can reduce the need for artificial lights simultaneously making good use of solar energy.
Over 80% of the energy we use is from fossil fuels. There is a huge utilization gap between the amount of solar energy we use and it’s potential. Finding a way to raise the bar of solar energy conversion process and storage solutions could replace fossil fuels with solar energy.
Intelizon is creating an energy efficient world with its advanced technology and cost-effective solar applications. With a mission of reliable and quality electricity for all, we provide energy solutions to the people living in rural areas worldwide. Intelizon is a pioneer in innovative, lithium-ion based indoor, outdoor and portable lighting platforms. Coupled with our product, we provide the best in class sales and service to our customers.
Setting the standard for energy efficient products, Intelizon intends to be the world leader in energy based product for the developing countries.