Producing solar power is just as simple as using the sunlight that heats the surface of the earth. Now, more than ever, it has become an important alternate energy source. It can be used in two different ways—as a heating source and as an energy source. It can generate heat, lighting and electricity. Understanding how this important energy source is produced is just the beginning.

Harnessing the Sun’s Energy

Solar energy is produced from solar radiation. Sunlight travels through the upper parts of the earth's atmosphere. Once this sunlight reaches the surface of the earth, it must be captured so it can be turned into an usable energy source. At the earth's surface, it is called infrared radiation where it is captured through the aid of photovoltaic or solar cells.

Converting the Rays

Once harnessed, the sunlight is absorbed into these photovoltaic/solar cells. These photovoltaic/solar cells are then used to convert the sun's energy into electrical energy. These cells are non-mechanical devices that are made from silicon alloys. Most of the solar collectors resemble black, flat boxes that sit on building rooftops. In the most common design, pipes in the box carry liquids that transfer the heat from the box into the building. This heated liquid then heats the water in a tank or is passed through radiators to heat the air.

Solar Power Advantages

Climate and the location on the planet are all determining factors on how effective this energy process will work. The main advantage of solar power is that sunlight is abundant in most parts of the world. Also, the need for bulky equipment to store the power is not needed. Cells can be mounted on the surface of homes, factories and other types of buildings to provide electrical power. The most important feature is that it has no adverse environmental effects to the planet.

Using Solar Power

Once the cells are charged, the power is stored until it is ready to be used. The amount of power that can be generated by these cells depends on the amount of sunlight that reaches them. This will vary based on location, number of daylight hours, climate and more. Solar energy is also free and supplies are unlimited. It only requires an initial investment in cells. Solar energy is one of the most important alternative energy options available today. Solar energy can help to transition the world's countries away from fossil fuels when it comes to producing electricity.