The heat and light of the sun are harnessed directly using solar devices like solar photovoltaics, solar thermal electricity devices and indirectly harnessed using technologies like solar architecture and artificial photosynthesis. There are active as well as passive solar devices. Also, the International Energy Agency has declared that the solar energy technologies are affordable, renewable and also inexhaustible. Also, the solar energy is considered to be the cleanest form of energy and reduces the pollution in the environment as well. Sunlight has several applications like the renewable energies like tidal and geothermal are in fact derived from the sun. Also, there are solar thermal technologies that mainly consider the applications like water heating, space cooling and space heating.
The uses of solar energy are:
1) Water heating:
Solar energy is the best substitute for the devices like electric water heaters and gas.Their efficiency is nearly 15-30% more than the conventional heating devices. Thus solar energy can be easily harnessed in daytime and can be used for water heating at one’s convenience.
2) Indoor lighting using solar energy:
The electronic sets for lighting at home can be powered solely using solar energy. When the sunlight is available the battery chargers charge up and the lighting can be used for convenience. During nighttime, the battery that has already stored energy in it can be used for lighting purposes even if there is no availability of sunlight. Thus, sunlight can be used for lighting during both day and night.
3) Heating swimming pools with solar energy:
Nobody likes to hop into swimming pools when the water is very cold. This is why you can use a solar blanket to keep the swimming pools warmer. This doesn’t require any installations. But you can still prefer to use solar water heating systems to keep the water warmer. There are solar water heating panels placed on the top of the roof which harness the solar energy and warm the water in swimming pool.
4) Cooking purposes:
Unlike the traditional cooking devices that use electricity or gas, solar energy devices use the most renewable and cleanest form of energy. There are solar ovens also available for cooking that solely use solar energy.
Here the solar energy is used to heat, cook and pasteurise the food using a solar cooker. Solar cookers come in different forms like concentrating sunlight cookers, cookers with light to heat conversion, etc. The working of solar cooker is pretty simple. It has a container that is elevated using metal or another heat sink. Then the food that can be easily cooked is placed inside. The food that is required for a family can be cooked using one or two solar cookers. There are even high-performance parabolic solar cookers available to cook food at a temperature of about 290 degree Celsius. They can be used for purposes like to stir fry vegetables, bake bread and also boil water.
5)Solar energy in residential areas: PV installations have increased in the recent years, and the government is even said to provide a certain subsidy for these installations at home. Solar energy produced by these devices can be used for the household heating, lighting purposes.
The daytime access can be given to the electrical grid that will enable people to qualify for a subsidy as well. Batteries are not required for the daytime harnessing of solar energy. Since solar energy is not available during the night, the batteries are provided. These batteries store the energy that can be used during the night. Moreover, solar energy is the spotless, renewable and inexhaustible source.Also, several vacation homes use solar energy alone. Even the remote areas where the electrical grid supply is not very reliable, solar panel installations can be given to such areas. There are solar home systems that include solar installations like solar panels, a regulator and also the necessary wiring and other switches.
6)Solar energy for industries: Solar energy has also been extensively used in industries. In distant remote and isolated places, solar energy is also used in several areas for transportation signalling, offshore navigation purposes and also road traffic warning signals. It is also used in systems for the sake of protection from natural phenomena like corrosion in pipes, bridges, and other such structures. In hybrid systems, they are even backed up with diesel generators.
Apart from this, solar energy can be used in community halls, schools, and even clinics. In remote areas, there are even centres where the communities can bring their batteries for the sake of being charged time to time. There are also portable water systems, where PV systems can be used to pump water. There are desalination systems at a large scale that can be installed in remote areas. Even the off-grid locations can benefit through these. This also reduces the fossil fuel consumption that happens otherwise.
The best benefits of solar energy:
Solar energy is considered to be the cleanest form of energy. It can be used to heat and light homes without affecting the environment. The carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels cause problems like global warming. But, solar energy doesn’t emit any carbon and can be considered to be very clean.
2) Free energy:
Solar energy is abundant and free. It can be harnessed easily and is abundantly available during the daytime. This makes it the best substitute for fossil fuels which are really expensive.
Solar energy is abundant enough and would be available on earth as long as the sun exists and that would be until forever. This is why solar energy is extremely renewable, unlike oil, gas and coal. Electricity can be generated wherever sunlight is available.
The sun has been burning for about billions of years and there is no issue of unreliability. Even if the solar energy is not available at times, it can be stored in batteries during the availability of sunlight.
5) Reduces utility costs:
The electricity usage from the grid can be reduced considerably due to the usage of solar energy. Thus, the heating and cooling cost can be also reduced.
In the US, the usage of solar energy will also provide you with certain incentives. The federal government in the US provides certain tax credits for the installation of these PV panels.
Solar energy is indeed one of the best forms of energy and needs to be wisely spent to reduce the growing demands of fossil fuels.