Solar energy is, simply, energy provided by the sun. This energy is in the form of solar radiation, which makes the production of solar electricity possible.
Electricity can be produced directly from photovoltaic, PV, cells. (Photovoltaic literally means “light” and “electric.”) These cells are made from materials which exhibit the “photovoltaic effect” i.e. when sunshine hits the PV cell, the photons of light excite the electrons in the cell and cause them to flow, generating electricity.
Solar energy produces electricity when it is in demand – during the day particularly hot days when air-conditioners drive up electricity demand.
In use, solar energy produces no emissions. One megawatt hour of solar electricity offsets about 0.75 to 1 tonne of CO2.
PV panels are being used increasingly, both in the city and in remote locations, to produce electricity for households, schools and communities, and to supply power for equipment such as telecommunication and water pumps. The majority of solar PV installations in Australia are grid-connected systems.
Also, electricity for remote and regional Australian communities has been supplied by solar energy for many years.
Australia is one of the sunniest countries in the world and there is huge potential for solar PV to make a significant contribution to electricity generation.
Benefits of solar energy
Here are some benefits of solar energy.
Solar energy is not only sustainable, it is renewable and this means that we will never run out of it. It is about as natural a source of power as it is possible to generate electricity.
The creation of solar energy requires little maintenance. Once the solar panels have been installed and are working at maximum efficiency there is only a small amount of maintenance required each year to ensure they are in working order.
They are a silent producer of energy. There is absolutely no noise made from photovoltaic panels as they convert sunlight into usable electricity.
There are continual advancements in solar panel technology which are increasing the efficiency and lowering the cost of production, thus making it even more cost effective.
During operation solar electricity power plants produce zero emissions.
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