A solar energy system works by harnessing the sun’s radiant light and heat with solar power to generate solar architecture, a solar form of water heating, solar thermal energy, and, most importantly, electricity. It is also considered one of the crucial sources of renewable energy. It’s technologies have been broadly classified as active or passive solar, depending on how the energy is harnessed, captured, and transformed. In addition, the active solar modules include the use of concentrated solar power, the use of photovoltaic systems, and most importantly, solar water that is heated to harness the energy. On the contrary, the passive solar modules or techniques include selecting materials with good thermal mass and, most importantly, orienting a building to the sun. Therefore, this paper presents a critical discussion on solar energy, its history, technology, and advantages and disadvantages.
Over the recent years, solar energy has been widely available due to its large magnitude hence making it a more appealing source of electricity. Humans first used solar energy during 7th-century B.C., when the sun started fires. Romans and Greeks harnessed solar power with mirrors in the 3rd century, that is B.C., to ignite torches that were used during religious ceremonies. As time went on, however, these mirrors became a regularized tool known as the burning mirrors (Beigi 440). In addition to these mirrors becoming normalized as a tool referred to as burning mirrors, the Chinese civilization was also responsible for extensively documenting the use of mirrors for similar purposes around 20 A.D.
Typically, sunrooms were designed with massive windows so that natural lights could enter the desired area. This was apparent in most iconic Roman bathhouses on south-facing sides of buildings. Nevertheless, most researchers in the early 1800s successfully used sunlight to power ovens for long voyages. They also used it to power steamboats powered by the sun. This clearly illustrated that it played a vital role in generating power without producing toxic substances and chemicals harmful to humans.
Nonetheless, solar cells or photovoltaic cells are electric devices that play a vital role in converting the energy of light directly into electricity with the aid of the photovoltaic effect. They are also a differential form of the photoelectric cell whose electrical attributes vary when exposed to sunlight, including the current voltage and resistance. The individual solar cells are typically perceived as the electrical foundation blocks of the photovoltaic techniques known as the solar panels. They were invented and demonstrated by a French Physicist known as Edmond Becquerel in 1839 at the age of 19 years only (Cardinaletti et al. 125). He managed to build the first solar cell at his father’s physics laboratory. Additionally, Smith Willoughby described in the issue of nature the impacts of light on selenium during the passage of electricity in February 1873. Charles Fritts, however, invented the first solid-state of the solar cell in 1883 by coating a semiconductor for selenium with gold to create the junction. Unfortunately, only a tiny percentage of this device was functional, making it unreliable as they were made from materials rarely found in the pure, elemental form.
Solar energy is forecasted to become one of the most vital contributors to the globe’s energy resources and is vitally necessary to implement the zero-emission plan or technique. The predictions and forecasts indicate that solar energy will be the most critical energy source used for the world’s electricity production in 2030 (Kabir et al. 897). Nevertheless, the photovoltaic cells are unique as they differ from batteries and solar panels. They do not need any form of chemical reaction or fuel to generate power or electric energy. The solar cells do not have any moving parts compared to other forms of solar energy. Furthermore, solar cells are the fundamental and essential parts of solar panels. This is because the individual solar cells combine to generate techniques known as solar cell panels. Homeowners tend to fix them on the rooftops to raise their conventional electricity supply to make it more efficient. A single-junction solar cell can generate voltages of the open circuit of approximately 0.6 volts. The number of volts seems less efficient and reliable, unlike other energy sources.
The solar cells usually produce a direct current that cannot be used in any electrical network initially powered by the alternating current. In addition, it undergoes the transformation process in an inverter, a tool designed to convert the direct current into the alternating current. There are several grid inverters, but most of the energy inverters are entirely electronic. However, there are inverters with mechanical impacts and, most critically, electronic circuitry (Kabir et al. 896). Solar inverters are primarily used for connected and off-connected grid systems. They are responsible for inscribing specific needs by having dedicated obligations such as maximum power point tracking and anti-islanding protection. In most scenarios, the micro-inverters tend to disunite or separate from the traditional inverters because the individual inverters are primarily linked to each solar panel. In return, this plays a vital role in boosting the general system performance.
Solar cells have played a significant role in harnessing and transforming the energy and power sector. The primary goal for the solar system is to generate and come up with clean, renewable energy from the sun. It is also clear the introduction of solar panels into household facilities plays a crucial role in combatting greenhouse emissions and, most importantly, reducing common reliance on fossil fuels (Molaei 552). They are also regarded as renewable energy sources as they are accessible as long as there is sun or the sun exists. The aforementioned is the most significant and common advantage of having solar cells. This form of renewable energy is collected from the sun, waves, and even the wind. The solar cells then harness the sun’s power and then transform into the electricity form, commonly used for commercial and residential purposes.
Nevertheless, solar cell energy is an economically friendly, environmentally friendly, and innovative form of energy. Photovoltaics is considered one of the popular topics in the green energy sector as it is the solution towards preventing climate change. In addition, innovation is also among the most technologically advanced sectors in renewable forms of energy. In Sweden, the government has managed to generate and provide job opportunities ranging from scientists and researchers to the P.V. installers, indicating that the solar cell sector provides job opportunities.
Despite the solar cell having advantages, it also has several weaknesses and shortcomings. One of the challenges that solar cells and general solar energy face are the high investment costs (Molaei 553). It is expensive for investors or individuals to install solar panels. An illustration of this is how approximately the 5Kw solar P.V.P.V. system costs around $7500 to $ 8500. This heavily relies on the type of roof that the customer has and other crucial circumstances and conditions. (Kabir et al. 566). Furthermore, solar energy or cells are also perceived to be seasonal compared to other forms of renewable energy, hence making them unreliable. The interior designs or needs of the household premises may also, at times, not meet the demands or requirements to maximize the output of the solar cells.
Solar cells and general energy have played a critical role in harnessing power and electricity non-contamination. In most cases, this happens because they do not emit dangerous and toxic forms of contaminants into the air, complex and damaging to human beings and the environment. It is also clear that solar energy is crucial as the sun is purely free, sustainable, more reliable. Most importantly, it is a clean resource that human beings can leverage to harness the power, making it the most preferred compared to other forms of energy that pollute the environment like fossil fuels.
Solar energy is the most cost-effective type of energy that is important to individuals with more prominent families. It advocates for reducing electricity costs hence allowing them to live a sustainable lifestyle. However, it is also associated with several challenges, such as setting up the panels. It sometimes needs a vast piece of land to set up the plants related to solar energy, and they also heavily depend on the weather as their efficiency drops during the cloud and rainy seasons. Typically, solar power is among the immense and leading sources of direct useable, hence creating other forms of energy resources such as wind, biomass, wave energy, and hydropower (Cardinaletti et al., 125). Solar technology has completely evolved in Russia and has rapidly grown in other regions. It was among the great US-Russia space race and was primarily used to create more space expeditions. In addition, the majority of the earth’s surface also tends to receive sufficient solar energy that plays a critical role in permitting the lower-grade heating of water and buildings despite the existing greater variations with latitude and season.
In the low latitudes, I strongly believe that simple mirror devices tend to concentrate and suppress the solar energy sufficiently to drive the steam turbines and cook. Nevertheless, lights’ energy can also shift electrons in some semiconducting materials hence making the photovoltaic impact generate and produce large scales of electricity. Therefore, the direct use of solar is the most effective and the only renewable means of ultimately supplanting the current global energy supply from non-renewable sources. Nevertheless, I also believe that solar is the way of the future because the sun is a natural and great source of energy as it is readily available and renewable. This is because solar power can provide close to 42% of the total energy supply. It also ensures that individuals soon will save much more money by ensuring that the electricity bills drop, creation of the rebate programs, and the federal tax credit through which the majority of the taxpayers are given a platform of claiming the federal solar energy tax credit.
Beige, Amir Mohammad, and Ali Maroosi. “Parameter identification for solar cells and module using a Hybrid Firefly and Pattern Search Algorithms.” Solar Energy 171 (2018): 435-446.
Cardinaletti, Ilaria, et al. “Organic and perovskite solar cells for space applications.” Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 182 (2018): 121-127.
Kabir, Ehsanul, et al. “Solar energy: Potential and future prospects.” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 82 (2018): 894-900.
Molaei, Mohammad Jafar. “The optical properties and solar energy conversion applications of carbon quantum dots: A review.” Solar Energy 196 (2020): 549-566.