Solar electricity systems utilize solar radiation, converting it into electrical energy. Solar energy is a renewable energy source whose use is limited only by human ingenuity. Solar power has a wide range of uses and not only man has need for it. In fact, it was long utilized since ancient times. The Romans used solar lighting in their pantheon and in fact this brought implications on reducing energy consumption. A hot conductive surface was also used when fire was not present, providing man the opportunity to cook his meat in the absence of fire. The heat generated from solar energy is a potent bacteriocide and in some cultures, people use the natural rays of the sun to disinfect their food and water supply.
Plants utilize solar energy for their photosynthesis and it is this very finding that man was curious enough to ask himself if it were possible to create a form of useful energy from solar power for his own consumption. In essence, it is safe to say that the solar electricity system was derived from the concept of photosynthesis.
Solar panels are composed of solar cells which contain photovoltaic material to harness solar energy. These photovoltaic materials are either composed of monocrystalline silicon, polycrystalline silicon, amorphous silicon, cadmium telluride, and copper indium selenide. Solar panels are usually situated on the roof and even on the outer wall outside a building provided that the location is situated on a tropical or semitropical area where there is enough sunlight or sunlight is to be expected for most days of the year.
Solar electricity systems are ineffective during night time, cloudy weather, and storms – be it snow or heavy rain. On a massive scale, solar electricity systems have started to become cheaper energy sources and solar electricity generation has the highest power density among all other renewable energy sources. On a small scale, solar electricity systems are still more expensive than most other energy sources.
Surprisingly, research on solar electricity systems has very few funding, thus there is no doubt that there can be a lot of future improvements far beyond what we can expect. Imagine the progress and development of experimental, highly efficient solar cells, achieving wonderful efficiency results of 40 percent. What more could you expect if it was sufficiently funded? Efficiencies are rising at a stunning rate. Oddly enough, the mass production costs have rapidly plummeted. No doubt that we can expect solar energy to be the most widely used energy source in the future. Not only does it virtually not produce any pollution, but it will be affordable as well.
One of the most important implications of the solar electricity system, aside from generating power for a residential area or community, is transportation. Solar-charged vehicles have started to become a big success for their recent feats, just like the solar-powered boat which was capable of crossing the Atlantic on solar power alone. Solar power is a very good alternative to fossil fuel energy sources, namely petroleum. Petroleum has become rather expensive and it intends to stay that way – and it is not even content with its cost – it wants to have even more value.
Perhaps one day when solar electricity systems will be developed to their full potential, we shall no longer be dependent on energy sources which are not only expensive, but are harmful to the environment as well.