People around the world have taken a keen interest on harnessing solar energy for practical use since the 1800s, and since then, we’ve come far achieved some real milestones. Currently, there exists many technologies and machineries that could leverage solar energy for multiple purposes. Hence, a lot are asking, “how is solar energy being used?”, or rather, what are the practical applications of solar energy available in the modern era?
Solar energy is basically captured sunlight via solar panels to create photovoltaic power (PV), otherwise known as concentrated solar power (CSP). This process of energy conversion then allows solar energy to be used to power vehicles, light, pools, heaters, and the list goes on. Solar-powered products are becoming more and more available in the market as they cover more of our needs and conveniences. Let’s take a look at some prominent examples.
Solar energy for daily use
In this sense, solar energy is being used to power people’s homes. This is one of the most popular applications of solar energy that’s gaining steady momentum in recent years. This can be attributed to the fact that more people are becoming aware of the ecological and economic benefits of using solar energy to generate electricity, and solar panel costs are at a decline.
Solar Water Heating
Utilization of solar energy extend to water heating systems. This works by having a solar panel on your rooftop to absorb the sun’s heat, and transfer it to the water tank. This is an extremely clever application because conventional heaters consume a lot of energy, which contributes a lot in your electricity bill.
On the colder regions, solar energy is used to maintain higher temperature inside homes and office buildings. This typically involves use of radiant floors or Forced Hot Air (FHA) systems.
Solar energy is used to power attic fans that help reduce heat during summer season. This is a good option in case you’re not keen on regular use of an air-conditioner because you’re not entirely able to offset your residence’s electricity use.
You might have come across lighting that automatically turns on when you’re at your neighbor’s porch, and that’s an application of solar energy. Lighting are essential and are on frequent use in homes, establishments, and in public. Solar lighting technologies make a lot of sense because they minimize consumption for something that needs to be on at dusk by filling their batteries during day for free.
Portable Solar Energy
In a world where we’re constantly on our mobile devices even while on transit, running on low batter is a reality that all people have faced, hence the invention of power banks. Some manufacturers took it another step by creating power banks or batter pacs that can be recharged using solar energy. Perfect for people who like to rough it out outdoors or for those whose professions involve a lot of leg work and traveling.
Solar vehicles are the future. Imagine a ride with zero gas consumption, and zero emissions. Aside from cars, there already exists some interesting applications like buses, trains, airplanes, and even race cars. This was made possible by customizing and embedding solar panels on the surface of the vehicle itself.
Life off the grid
We traditionally rely on fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas for our energy needs. The carbon emissions from using these sources are bad for the environment, and are limited resources, hence it’s inevitable the prices will sky-rocket if we don’t find alternatives fast. Relying on alternative sources of energy such as solar energy gives us independence and security, especially now that we have more capable machines at our disposal, such as solar panels that are more sensitive to light and can work at night and batteries with higher storage capacities.