What is Solar Energy?

Solar energy is a form of energy that is obtained directly from sunlight. It is harnessed by using solar panels. The panels used are made up of photovoltaic (PV) cells that chemically convert the solar energy into electrical or thermal energy for everyday use. It is the most abundant form of energy while also being the most environmentally conscious.

Alternative Energy vs. Renewable Energy

Alternative energy can be defined as any “alternative” to burning fossil fuels for energy as humans have been doing for centuries. The term came about when we were able to make technological advancements and find substitutions for burning coal or oil. Renewable energy is an energy source that is sustainable and reusable. These two terms have different origins but really define very similar concepts.

Some forms of renewable energy can still be harmful to the environment, even if they are never-ending. Alternative energy is all about keeping the planet protected from any further harm that fossil fuels produce.

What Can Solar Energy Be Used For?

Approximately 3 million homes in the United States are running on solar systems. The use of solar energy is drastically increasing. The annual rate of growth in the industry is about 33%. At this rate, solar energy is becoming increasingly accessible and the most practical choice out of any energy source.

Why Solar is the Best Choice for our Environment

Solar is the most abundant renewable energy source available, as it is unlimited unlike many of the other options for energy, also making it the cheapest! The use of solar energy reduces the amount of methane and carbon emissions into our atmosphere. It decreases pollution overall on all plains, being land, air, and sea. Solar energy is available every day and can be harvested from anywhere in the world.

Photovoltaic vs. Solar Panels

Photovoltaic cells dive deeper into the science of solar energy. People often use the two interchangeably, but they aren’t exactly the same thing. Photovoltaic cells were first discovered accidentally in 1839 when a scientist realized that when the electrons were conducted, they were able to create a current. In 1954 the first successful prototype of a photovoltaic cell was created, giving us hope for a greener future.

Photovoltaic cells consist of multiple layers, with the middle being the most crucial to the conducting process. These cells are the science behind solar electricity and make up each solar panel. On its own one cell cannot create much of an electrical current, but by creating a panel of multiple attached cells they can all work together to generate higher levels of electricity. Each size differs, but the most common sizes hold 60-72 photovoltaic cells per panel. These panels also work as a protective casing for the cells and help to protect them from inclement weather.

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