Solar Energy: Everything You Need to Know


A brief history of solar power

The first photovoltaic cell was developed in 1954. Although solar energy had previously been produced and converted into renewable energy through various processes, it was after 1954 that solar power became a viable source of electricity to power devices over long periods. Today, many solar panels can convert sunlight to solar energy at above 20 percent efficiency, which is constantly on the rise. For reference, the first solar cells convert solar radiation to electricity at an efficiency of 4 percent.

A few state and federal incentives and policies, as mentioned in, contributed to reducing the cost of solar panels far enough for them to become more widely adopted. The solar power capacity in the country is enough to power 11 million households.

Facts about solar panels

Solar power is the utilization of the sun’s energy for electrical or thermal purposes. A solar panel system that converts the sun’s rays into usable electricity is one of the most common methods to capture solar energy. Solar energy is usually used in thermal applications to heat indoor spaces or fluids. Solar hot water systems and passive solar heating can take advantage of the sun’s energy with solar technology.

How do solar panels work?

A solar panel comprises a layer of cells, a metal frame, a glass unit, and wiring. Silicon has electrical properties that allow it to absorb and convert sunlight into electricity. A flow of electric current is initiated when light hits a cell, and the electrons are set in motion. The photovoltaic effect describes how solar panel tech works.

The photovoltaic effect is the science of generating electricity using solar panels. It was first discovered in 1839 and can be thought of as a property of specific materials that allows them to create an electric current when exposed to sunlight.

The process works through several steps:

  1. The photovoltaic solar cell absorbs the sun’s energy.
  2. The flow of electric current occurs when the sun’s rays interact with the Silicon cell.
  3. Direct current (DC) electricity is captured by wires and fed into a solar inverter to convert it to alternating current (AC) electricity.

The cost of solar energy

The cost of solar panels fell as a result of the increased inefficiency. The cost of installing a solar panel has fallen over the last decade, and renewable energy experts foresee that prices will continue to fall in the years to come.

Lowering the cost of solar energy may be possible thanks to solar power. The federal Investment Tax Credit has allowed households to deduce 26 percent of a solar system installation cost from their federal taxes, which is one of the main incentives available to anyone interested in solar energy. The incentive won’t last forever, as the ITC goes away for residential solar installations in 2024.

In addition, many states and utilities offer further incentives, such as net metering.

Solar energy is a renewable power source.

Anywhere that sunlight hits the surface of the Earth is a potential source for generating solar power, which is harnessable almost everywhere in the world. The sun provides a limitless source of energy. It is possible to generate electricity from infinite resources. If you want to produce electricity with renewable resources, compare it to using fossil fuels. It took thousands of years for oil, gas, and coal to form. Hence, every time one of those resources is burned to create electricity, that finite resource is moved marginally closer to depletion. The use of renewable resources from the sun to generate electricity does not deplete that resource. An infinite amount of sunlight can be turned into electricity in the future after shining on Earth’s surface. That is what makes it possible to use renewable energy and sustain it.

While the current electricity in the United States is mainly made up of fossil fuels such as oil and gas, renewable energy sources like solar are becoming a more significant portion of the country’s energy profile. The cost of renewable technologies remains competitive.