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Solar Energy sample essay

|The increasing cost of energy and the reality of almost-depleted oil resources have driven man to discover alternative sources. And now, the human race has turned to the basic elements of nature by harnessing energy from wind, water, and the sun.

Solar energy is a renewable form of energy and has been a major focus as an alternative source. It offers promising potentials as a clean renewable form of energy but it also has its limitations. Sun, as our closest star, is practically an indirect and direct source of available energy here on Earth. But it was only until recently that the potentials of solar energy appealed to society as it has been greatly improved through research and study.

The sun’s energy originates from the nuclear reactions at its core where temperature reaches 15 millions °C. It reaches the Earth’s surface in form of light and heat and can be gained at 1Kw/ m2 under optimal conditions. In order to use solar radiation there has to be a way to capture the energy. Solar panels are invented to collect the sun’s energy and can de converted directly or indirectly ¦to other forms of energy, such as heat and electricity. Applications of solar energy can be for heating/cooling, electricity production, and chemical processes such as in solar detoxification technologies for cleaning water and air.

There are many advantages of solar energy over other conventional forms. As a renewable form of energy, the primary benefit of this is that it will never run out. The sun provides unlimited supply of solar energy, and is virtually free after the user recovers the initial cost of installation. The use of solar panels in homes does not need fuels and produces no waste or pollution. The Clean Energy Ideas website further presented on the advantages of solar power that the only pollution that could be associated with this is may be during the production of the cell and transportation to ones home. But by the time that it is installed, this solar power system has the total lack of pollution given off.

Solar energy also has the ability to harness power in remote locations. It has an advantage to bring electricity in the remote places on earth as long as the sun contains enough energy in that location. Mountain communities, for example, could benefit a lot from the electricity powered by solar energy as constructing conventional power lines in these places will be very difficult or near impossible due to expensive cost it would incur. Solar energy power system can be stand alone structures that do not require connection to power or natural gas grid.

A major limitation of solar energy is its ability to collect and store energy so there is a constant power supply. Since it cannot function at night when the sun’s power is not available or in places where the sun is not able to provide enough energy for the amount of energy needed for use, there are times that back up energy source is needed. The irregular and variable manner that solar energy arrives on earth limits the use of this form of energy. Large areas are also needed to collect it at a useful rate. In the United Kingdom, for example, where the country experiences not a very sunny climate, solar power is use only for low power application.

Jesse Ausebel of the of the Rockefeller University in New York in his article for the Inderscience’s International Journal of Nuclear Governance, Economy and Ecology, claims that renewable energy is not always green (Inderscience, 2007). He criticized solar power since a “photovoltaic solar cell plant would require painting black about than 150 square kilometers plus land for storage and retrieval to equal a 1000 MWe nuclear plant”. Since this form of renewable energy involves vast infrastructure, such as concrete, steel, and access roads, Ausebel further added that “As a Green, one of my credos is ‘no new structures’ but renewables all involve ten times or more stuff per kilowatt as natural gas or nuclear,” (Inderscience, 2007).

The initial cost of installation of solar panels or building solar power stations can be very expensive, discouraging some of the could-be users of solar energy. It has appealed mostly to the affluent members of society and environment advocates because buying and installing solar power equipment can cost $15,000 for an average-size home before any current starts to flow a John Greenwald wrote in his article for Time magazine (Greenwald, 1993).

Advance studies and research, however, are trying to lower the cost of installation so that this could be accessible to more people. The technology in harnessing the potentials of solar energy is getting better and cheaper with the passing years. The price of photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight to electricity has fallen from $500 a watt in the 1960s to about $4 in the 1990s and companies are still finding ways to reduce the cost for residential use (Greenwald, 1993).

As the technology is getting better, support from the federal government are also coming in. Jimmy Carter earlier created tax breaks to spur solar development but this was later scrapped by Ronald Reagan who viewed this as meddling in the energy business, which impeded the development of renewable energy for about 10 years (Greenwald, 1993). With the current situation of our environment, however, the government and the society in general recognizes the need and benefit from developing and improving solar energy.

The use of solar energy for electricity is not a farfetched idea as the technology has gone through vast improvements. Researchers believe that solar energy is soon going to play a major role in electricity generation for the masses. Production of this on a larger scale are being studied and improved. Budget allocations for these research and studies are being increased in countries around the world signifying that people are finally recognizing the advantages of this renewable form of energy.

Energy is needed to spur human activities. Solar energy indeed poses promising potentials in a society where conventional sources of energy are near depletion. Undeniably, the solar energy has its limitations, but these are slowly and surely overcome with technological advances and it will not be for long when this energy form will be produced in a larger scale and cheaper rate accessible for homes around the globe.


Clean Energy Ideas.

Greenwald, John. Here Comes the Sun. 18 October 1993. Time magazine.

A Brief Introduction to Solar Energy. My Solar Power at Home.

Renewable Energy Wrecks Environment, According To Researcher. Inderscience Publishers. 25 July 2007

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