Today, we’ve learned more about the sun than the ancients would have thought possible. While they worried that the sun might not come back again the next day, we’ve learned how to harness its energy to power our world.
What Is Solar Energy?
Solar energy is simply the ability to convert the light energy given off by the sun into usable energy. This is done through photovoltaic cells, which are packed into solar panels.
The Discovery of Solar Energy
Although humans have been using the sun to start fires for thousands of years, the discovery of photovoltaic power occurred in 1839. Edmond Becquerel, a French physicist, was working with a small cell built from electrodes suspended in a conductive solution.
He found that the cell was more powerful when it was in the sun. Without knowing it, he had made a rudimentary photovoltaic cell.
In 1954, photovoltaic energy was properly discovered at Bell Labs. The scientists there refined this simple cell and created the first real PV cell.
How Does Solar Energy Work?
Solar panels are made from silicon cells, which are encased in glass to protect them. Sunlight is made up of photons, which pass through the glass and hit the silicon. The photons dislodge electrons from the silicon atoms.
The electrons are then carried by wires into an inverter, which converts the DC energy into AC energy, the kind that you find in your wall sockets.
Is Solar Effective?
When you consider this process, it seems unlikely that a few electrons can power your whole house. But, because it all happens on a microscopic scale it’s difficult to get a sense of just how big this operation is. PV cells capture millions of photons every second on sunny days!
In addition, solar panels still work on rainy and cloudy days. The sun still releases the same amount of photons, and although fewer make it to the panels it’s still more than enough to power your house.
Because a solar energy system is so effective, the US has started offering state solar incentives to encourage more people to use solar energy.
Consider Clean Energy Today
How does solar energy work? Now you know! It can seem like magic, but it’s actually a very effective, environmentally friendly source of energy.
Because solar is so effective, it’s a great option for powering your house. Consider getting solar panels installed for yourself!
If you enjoyed learning about solar energy and how does it work, we have tons of similar articles on our blog! Check it out for more news on sustainable energy!