Sunday, November 16, 2008

Solar Energy and Solar Power

Solar energy and solar power are two terms that are often used interchangeably but actually they are not the same thing. They both mean to receive and use solar rays, but more specifically solar power refers to electricity generated from the sun's light.

Solar PV PanelSolar energy is a more generic term and it describes all the uses of the light and heat from the sun. That includes solar power generation, but also solar thermal for water heating, space heating and cooling, and heat for industrial processes. Solar energy includes also passive solar energy that uses building orientation, design and materials to heat and cool buildings. 

Solar power is generated directly using photovoltaic (PV) technology. Solar PV panels (made from a semiconductor material) harness sunlight to create electricity to run appliances and lighting in your home. The electricity created by the solar system is direct current (DC), and the electricity we use in our homes is alternating currents (AC). Thus solar systems need an inverter which changes the DC current into useable AC current.

There are also concentrating solar power systems. They concentrate the sunlight using mirrors or lenses onto a receiver to produce heat. Then the heat can be used to generate electricity through steam turbines.

Solar energy is clean, environment-friendly, and most abundant renewable energy source we can use. In my next few posts, I will write about producing your own solar electricity by installing solar PV panels on the rooftop of your house, and what basic information householders need to know at the beginning.


4 comments:

BeyondGreen said...

I think we best be getting on with the promise of making America energy independent.Iran just asked OPEC to reduce production by yet another 1.5 million barrels per day.This past year and the record gas prices played a huge part in our economic meltdown and seriously damaged our society.We keep planning to spend BILLIONS on bailouts and stimulus plans.Bail us out of our dependence on foreign oil. Make electric plug in car technology more affordable. It cost the equivalent of 60 cents a gallon to drive an electric plug in car. The electric could be generated from wind or solar. Get with it! Utilize free sources such as wind and solar. Stop throwing away money on things that don't work. Invest in America and it's energy independence. Create cheap clean energy, create millions of badly needed green collar jobs. Put America back to work. It is a win-win situation. We have to become more poractive citizens, educate ourselves and demand our elected officials move this country forward into the era of energy independence. Jeff Wilson's new book The Manhattan Project of 2009 Energy Independence NOW outlines a plan for America to wean itself off oil. We need a plan and we need it now! www.themanhattanprojectof2009.com

BarbaraRae said...

I totally agree with beyondgreen. We need to get serious and get on with a plan, instead of no plan at all!

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