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In a world where our current energy sources are becoming increasingly polluting and finite, it is important to take advantage of the energy that is available in abundance; the sun. Hundreds of millions of gigawatts of energy are produced everyday by the sun and reaches the earth, and yet only a fraction of this energy is actually used. By exploiting this incredible energy source, the world can become more sustainable and the impacts of climate change can be reduced.
Solar energy can be used in many different ways. It can be used for heating and cooling of buildings, for generating electricity, for desalination of water and for several other uses. To harness the sun’s power most effectively, a number of technologies including photovoltaics, thermal solar power and Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) are employed.
Photovoltaics, also known as solar cells, convert solar radiation into direct current (DC) electricity. Various complex manufacturing processes are used to make these solar cells and they are usually combined together in modules known as solar panels. Solar modules are then grouped together in arrays to generate more electricity. Photovoltaics is one of the most efficient and commonly used methods to generate electricity from the sun’s power.
Thermal solar power uses solar collectors to absorb the sun’s energy to heat a liquid, such as oil or water. The heated liquid is then used to spin a turbine which generates electricity. The use of thermal solar power to generate electricity is most efficient when large solar collectors are used and is particularly suited for electricity generation in remote and isolated locations.
Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) is a technology that captures the sun’s energy through a series of large mirrors and uses it to generate electricity. CSP often uses molten salt as a heat storage medium, which helps to generate electricity even at night or on cloudy days. The technology has been in development for many years, but is only now being widely adopted due to improvements in efficiency and cost.
Exploiting the sun’s potential to generate electricity is becoming an increasingly viable option. With improvements in technology and the development of storage options, solar energy is becoming a more reliable and cost effective energy source. Solar energy is one of the cleanest and most abundant sources of energy available, and it has the potential to change the way we power the world. The potential for solar energy is enormous, and by taking advantage of this source of energy, we can help to create a sustainable future.