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Basics of Solar Power

May 7, 2008
Solar power is a non-polluting, renewable, completely free and abundantly available energy source, and for many years now experts have been putting their minds to the question of how to best and most efficiently make use of it. Here are some basic points about solar power and about how it is being used at present.

Solar power has a variety of different uses. It can be used as a direct means of heat, for example heating water. It can be converted to electricity via photo voltaic cells. Using the solar power directly is often termed 'passive solar' whereas converting it into electricity is known as 'active solar'. The weak form in which we receive solar energy can be a limiting factor. To make the best use possible of solar power we need to discover how to harness it and then make it concentrated.

People have used solar power in passive systems for hundreds, even thousands, of years, for example in lighting fires, heating water, drying wood, and so on. Solar water heaters are now in use in many places where sunlight is available for most days in the year, and there are also solar power plants in existence, which concentrate the sun's energy and generate large amounts of electricity. This kind of power plant is especially useful and economical in out of the way places where it is difficult to get conventional electricity. Solar power is even put to use in outer space, by satellites and space craft.

Recently, much interested has been generated in the idea of using solar power as a means to run power motor vehicles. This is still very much at an experimental stage. The huge amount of power required by a car's engine would mean using very large solar panels. This is impractical due to the size and fragility of the panels. There is also the problem that when the sun is not shining, they wouldn't run for very long. In this instance, we are along way from using solar power to run our cars.

The demand for solar power is increasing, but at the moment its cost prevents it being used widely. It is not the lack of technology, but the cost of converting it to useful energy which is prohibitive. However fuel costs are continually rising, and the time will come when solar power will be economically viable. People are also increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of present day fuels, and therefore the demand for clean energy is rising. This increasing demand means that by economy of scale manufacturers will find it more feasible to produce devices which run on solar power.
About the Author
If you are interested to find out more about solar energy then visit Paul Wood's website for more interesting information about solar energy uses
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