Solar energy has been harnessed by humans for thousands of years. From the earliest times, our ancestors used the sun’s energy either to heat their bodies or to dry food and clothes. But it has only been in the last two centuries that we have begun using solar energy to produce electrical energy.
The discovery of photovoltaics by French physicist Edmond Becquerel 1839 laid down the foundation for the use of solar energy as an electrical source. In his early experiments, he discovered that electrical current in some materials could be increased when exposed to light. It wasn’t until 1905, however, that Becquerel’s work was fully understood when the famous physicist Albert Einstein published his theories on the photoelectric effect. Since then, solar technology has made significant leaps in development where it became an important aspect towards acquiring safe, renewable energy.
Today, solar energy has become an invaluable power alternative across a wide spectrum of users. Among the first to take advantage of this technology are those living far from the power grids. Though the early use was limited to a few lights and perhaps an appliance or two, it later on became a standard that even when the power grid became accessible in their area they still preferred to use solar power. Solar power also became popular among outdoors enthusiasts. The portability and reliability of solar power makes it ideal for camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities. Not only does it provide power for gadgets, it can also be used for cooking.
But the best achievement of solar energy use to date is providing power to the poorest areas, especially in developing countries. Lack of adequate and reliable power has always been a hindrance to a community’s growth. With the introduction of solar power, communities that used to live in primitive conditions could now boost their productivity as well as pave the way toward educating themselves and their children.
Other benefits of solar energy include:
• Helps reduce pollution – a solar system provides safe and renewable electrical energy. As such, the need for kerosene-based lighting and power generators is eliminated thus lessening air pollution. Moreover, because it runs on a photovoltaic system, solar power helps reduce carbon emissions by up to 6 tons over the rated 20-year lifetime of a typical PV system.
• Reduces the need for constant maintenance – because they are meant to be placed outside exposed to varying weather, solar systems are built to last. This lessens the need for frequent maintenance such as checking on wiring systems or other connections found in traditional power sources.
• More cost effective – though the initial cost is a bit higher, solar systems offer more savings in the long run as maintenance costs are lessened and no longer subject to fluctuating power cost changes.
• Easy installation and setup – whether for providing power for an entire home or for lighting a single lamp, typical solar systems are easy to install. Most come in pre-assembled, mount-and-forget packages that is ideal for any situation. Some companies also offer customized packages that are tailored to your particular needs.
• Improves work efficiency and literacy – in rural and depressed areas, having a reliable source of power means that a regular work day could be extended without worrying about the costs. This allows for faster economic development because local businesses could now operate event at nights. Also, having sufficient lighting means that proper schools could now be built so that children won’t have to read and write in dark conditions. It also means that people would now have access to TV and radio, perhaps even the internet, providing another means of learning.
About the Author: Cassandra Allen, Marketing Director of www.IllustraLighting.com. Cassandra is a marketing professional with over 15 years of extensive experience leading corporate marketing and internal communications for multi-national companies in diverse industries.