Solar translates to harnessing the energy and radiations from the sun to convert it into other forms of energy using technology such as solar heating, photovoltaics, artificial photosynthesis, etc. Solar energy is one of the most popular alternatives to non-renewable sources of energy and is widely categorized into passive and active solar energy depending upon their methods of harnessing. Active solar energy involves using technology like solar panels to capture the energy from the sun and convert it into other forms while passive solar energy deals with the orientation of buildings towards the sun, proper circulation vents, selection of materials with suitable thermal mass, etc
What makes solar energy such a lucrative choice for energy can be cited to its abundance and significant magnitude of availability. This automatically makes it quite an essential source of electricity. The United Nations surmised the vast potential for solar energy which exceeded the world’s energy demand. The primary emphasis has been laid on shifting to solar energy as a source of clean inexhaustible renewable energy and holds extreme stress for future generations. The reason why solar energy is gaining precedence because of it is acting as an option over conventional sources due to its easy availability, sustainability, pollution-free characteristics apart from reducing the effects of global warming and proving to be a lucrative investment option for future businesses.
The amount of solar energy that can be utilized by humans would vary significantly from region to region due to geographical conditions, land area, and climatic conditions. Those regions located near the equator would have more access to sunlight than those living near the poles. This is where photovoltaic cells come to the rescue as they align themselves to follow the direction of the sun continually. Solar panels can sometimes prove ineffective due to impending cloud cover and nighttime cycles. Land availability is another aspect that needs to be taken into consideration. Some regions may not have sufficient landmass to support the construction of solar panels, in such cases constructing solar panels on already existing pieces of infrastructure like roofs can yield the desired results.
With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, a transition in the usage of fuel types had been observed, with people now opting for coal and petroleum over wood and biomass. The earliest progress in the fields of solar technology was made in the late 1800s however with the advent of the 20th century the growth became stagnant. The 1979 energy crisis again brought attention to the need to create a sustainable source of energy and solar energy was once again thrust into the limelight. Commercial solar water heaters first began appearing in the USA from the 1890s onwards. According to reports by several energy agencies, if most of the major developing nations want to take the initiative to prevent climate change, then solar power can play a significant role in it. Solar energy is not only energy efficient but can also reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. As Frank Shuman quoted- “We have proved¦that after our stores of oil and coal are exhausted the human race can receive unlimited power from the rays of the sun.”