Use solar panels to generate your own energy.

With so much talk about global warming and green energy, solar energy doesn’t really need an introduction. However, let’s just quickly touch upon what solar power is, what kind of benefits it brings to you and the various applications of solar energy power.

What is Solar Energy?

Solar Energy is one of the many forms of renewable energy. Quite simply, solar energy or renewable energy comes to us from the Sun and we can harness it using solar panels in two ways;

Solar Thermal (ST): Solar energy, when used for heating purposes, is called Solar Thermal or solar heating. Such heating applications include – solar water heating, cooking food (using solar cookers), etc.

Solar Photvoltaic (PV): When used for generating electricity, it is called solar photovoltaic. This electricity generation is done using special cells (or rather, a large array of cells) called ‘Photovoltaic cells’ that are made from semi-conductor materials.

Passive Solar: This involves making direct use of the Sun’s energy in order to heat the air inside homes and absorb the maximum possible solar power in order to keep the homes warm (other equipments i.e. insulations are required for this). One good example of passive solar heating is passive solar air heaters.

We will get into the details of each (ST and PV, primarily) a bit later, but let’s first quickly check the benefits of using solar energy. Solar Energy: What’s in it for you?

You have seen it on televisions and you have read about it in newspaper; and you know what solar energy is. But, the big question is: “Why should you go for Solar Energy?” What’s in it for you?

Here are the top 3 reasons why you should be using solar power:

Save money through cutting your energy bills: Just think of the amount of heat energy that is typically used in a UK home. With boilers being used for heating water and for central heating, you end up paying huge gas bills. Similarly, your electricity bills too can be quite burdensome.

With the energy costs rising rapidly, you can expect the energy bills to drill a larger hole in your pocket in times to come. So, it makes a lot of sense to use solar energy for heating as well as lighting/electric purposes. Save that money for your future or just spend it for fun.

More savings through government incentives: The UK government too is advocating the case of solar energy power very heavily. There is the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) for Solar Thermal (ST) and you have Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) payments for Solar Photovoltaic (PV). These incentives are really making it worth the effort.

Saving the environment: You can also make your own contribution towards saving the environment and preventing global warming by using solar energy. Since solar energy (like wind energy and other renewable sources of energy) doesn’t produce any harmful effect on the environment, you are effectively saving your children and yourself from the disastrous effects of global warming.

Something to be proud of: As a proud owner of a solar energy system, you can even boast about it with your friends and family. It is really something that you should be proud of.

Applications for Solar Energy

Solar energy has multiple applications and you can classify these applications under the three types of solar energy i.e. Solar Thermal, Solar Photovoltaic and Passive Solar

Solar Thermal Systems and Applications

Solar heating applications include solar water heating, that use solar panels to harness solar power for solar hot water heating. Solar hot water tanks and solar boilers are much in use today to meet the hot water requirements of a typical UK household.

Another interesting application of solar power is for Solar Pool’ or ‘Solar Swimming Pool’ heating. Solar pool heating is done by using solar power (and collectors and heat exchangers) when it is at its peak radiation level. Though solar swimming pools might also use other ways and means for heating, this is the most common way to go about it.

Solar PV or Solar Electric Systems

Besides solar heating, you can also convert solar energy into solar electricity using solar panels. Home solar electricity can be used for many purposes e.g. for powering small or low power domestic appliances, LED lighting, back-up electricity for domestic use, parking meters, burglar alarm systems, caravan lighting and much more. The Need for Solar Panels

Green energy is the need of the hour, if we have to save our Earth from the harmful effects of emissions. Using solar panels to utilise solar energy is seen as one of the biggest contributors towards this green revolution. So, it makes perfect sense to harness solar energy.