Solar energy is one of the most promising forms of renewable energy. It's clean, sustainable, and it doesn't produce any emissions. But how does solar energy work?
This blog post will discuss the basics of what solar energy is and how it works. We'll also look at some of the benefits of solar energy and how group buying can make solar panels more accessible for everyone!
How Does Solar Energy Work (Step by Step)
We'll start with the basics: what is solar energy? Solar energy is a form of renewable energy that comes from the sun. It's clean, sustainable, and doesn't produce any emissions.
The easiest way to describe it is this: There are many different kinds of energy, and one form can turn into another. When you stand out in the sun, the light of the sun's rays warms your skin. A car's engine turns the chemical energy of petrol into the kinetic energy of motion. In the same way, the sun's light can be used to generate electrical energy.
Step 1: The Sun Creates Energy
The sun is a huge nuclear reactor, smashing atoms together and releasing the energy inside. It's been doing this for billions of years, and thankfully, it will continue to do so for billions more.
The sun produces energy in the form of light and heat. This energy travels through space and reaches us, which is why we can feel the warmth and see the light of the sun.
Step 2: Solar Panels Convert the Sun's Energy into Electricity
After the sun's energy travels millions of miles, it reaches your solar panel and is turned into something usable: electricity.
Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic cells designed to capture the sun's energy and convert it into electricity. Solar panels are usually made from silicon, a good material for converting sunlight into electricity.
When light hits the silicon, it knocks electrons loose from their atoms. These electrons flow through the material to form an electrical current. This current can eventually be used to power homes and businesses.
Not all photovoltaic cells are created equal. PV technology is improving rapidly, with cells becoming more and more efficient over time, much like how electric car batteries are becoming more powerful, or smartphones can do more in less space. In this context, 'efficiency' refers to how much of the light's energy is transformed into electricity, which these days is between 15-20%, and the technology is only improving!
You may also have heard of ‘active solar energy’, which is slightly different, so how does active solar energy work? Unlike PV cells, active solar energy is where the sun heats air or liquid, the heat of which is later translated into usable power.
Step 3: DC to AC Conversion
The electricity generated by solar panels is in the form of direct current (DC). This is the kind of electricity that's used in batteries. However, your appliances use alternating current (AC), as does the UK's energy grid. DC electricity needs to be converted into AC before it can be used to power anything in your house: so, how does solar panel energy work?
This conversion is done by something called an inverter, which is installed simultaneously with your solar panels. Inverters change the output of the electricity so that the electrons first flow one way, then the other. AC is more efficient and can travel further, using it for the electrical grid.
Step 4: The Energy Is Used or Stored
The electricity generated by your solar panels is then fed into the grid. A device keeps track of how much is generated. A smart meter can also be installed so that you can be compensated accurately for your energy generation (because yes: you can get paid for your excess energy!)
Alternatively, it can be stored in batteries for use at a later time. Batteries are an important part of Solar Together: they allow you to store the energy generated by your solar panels and use it through the evening when the sun isn't shining or when you have more need for energy. This is a great way to reduce your reliance on the energy grid and save money on your electricity bills!
The Benefits of Solar Energy
Solar energy is one of the most promising forms of renewable energy. It's clean, sustainable and it doesn't produce any emissions.
There are lots of benefits to solar energy, both for individuals and for the environment:
- Solar energy is a renewable resource that will never run out. That’s unlike things like coal, gas and petrol, of which there’s a finite amount.
- Solar panels have a long lifespan, and most last for around 25 years.
- Installing solar panels can reduce your reliance on the energy grid and save you money on your electricity bills in the long run.
- Using solar energy helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions because it doesn’t rely on fossil fuels and provides a clean and renewable energy source.
This means solar energy is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.
Now that you know everything you need to know, Solar Together can help you get them at a discounted price if you're thinking of installing solar panels.
How Group-Buying Can Make Solar Panels More Accessible
Solar Together is a group-buying scheme that makes solar panels and batteries more accessible and affordable for everyone.
Group buying is a great way to install solar panels on your property. By pooling our resources together, everyone can make a saving.
Even better, we vet suppliers for the quality of their service so that you don't have to. Beyond that, we even offer optional add-ons like battery storage and EV charge point installation and insurance-backed guarantees for customer protection.
We understand why that might sound too good to be true. So, why not learn more through our Blog?