What is renewable energy? Well, renewable energy is basically energy that is taken from resources like sunlight, rain, geothermal heat and wind, which can be utilized on a small or large scale. We here at solarenergyrenewable.info will be focusing solely on the solar aspect of renewable energy.
Solar energy is a term that we use for light and heat that comes from sunlight. Sunlight contains photons, and these are the basic units of light. We create solar energy from the sun in the form of solar radiation. To be able to use a solar powered electrical generator you need photovoltaic cells and heat engines. However, there are both passive and active solar technologies. Active solar techniques use photovoltaic panels and solar thermal collectors to harness energy. Passive techniques are those that select materials with favorable thermal mass or light dispersing properties, etc.
In 1839 a French physicist named Edmund Becquerel discovered what is now called the “Photovoltaic effect (photo – light and voltaic – electrical potential)”. Later, in the 1880s, PV (photovoltaic cells) were developed that converted light into electricity. It wasn’t completely understood how it was being converted, just that it was. Not until Einstein’s Photoelectric effect explanation in the 1900s was it revealed and understood.
A renewable energy source is one that does not destroy our ecosystem. Solar energy has not, to date, shown any harmful effects and it is a natural resource. The supply of solar energy is substantial. The sun is basically a fusion reactor, providing us with enough energy in one minute to supply a year’s energy to the world. Solar energy is free and an inexhaustible resource. Why not use it as an energy source as well?
The American southwest has solar power plants that are used commercially. There are also some being used by homeowners, farms and some businesses across the country. Why are they doing this? To reduce their electricity or heating bill; for instance, some farms or large businesses that have big buildings can install enough solar panels to save on a large electricity bill. This is true even in the northern states.
A solar power plant costs about 10 to 14 cents per kilowatt-hour; this is compared to regular coal or natural gas power that is 4 cents per kilowatt-hour. But these prices are dropping because of low installation costs of the photovoltaic cells. There are also a number of tax packages and incentives offered by state governments to use solar power instead of the regular types of power available.