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Types of Solar Energy Systems
-involves the design of buildings, homes and lighting
-focuses on the placement of the home or building to acquire as much energy as possible from sunlight
-involves the use of walls, windows, roofs, floors, landscaping and home exteriors to maximize the control over heat from the sun
-considerations to be acknowledged when designing a house for passive solar energy (Mother Nature Network, 2012):
-site location: the house should be located in an area where there will be sun (example: building a home in the midst of a thick forest and expecting to use a passive solar system to get heating and cooling probably won't work)
-seasonal shading: the house must also be designed so that there will be minimal heat from the sun during the summer and an optimal amount of heat from sun during the cold winters. This is usually done by the design of the roof.
-orientation: windows should be pointing to the south so there is exposure from the sun.
How is Electricity Produced?
A photovoltaic panel (or a solar panel) is made up of photovoltaic cells. These cells are semiconductors and are usually made from silicon. The PV panels also have anti-reflective coating so that the maximum amount of sunlight is absorbed instead of being reflected.
The semiconductor also has a positively charged side and a negatively charged side (usually made of boron and phosphorus). When sunlight is absorbed, the positively and negatively charged sides are stimulated and a direct current is produced.
This current must be changed to an alternating current in order to be used for electricity. This change from DC to AC occurs in an inverter.
This alternating current then travels to the fuse box, where it is distributed to the appliances in different rooms where it is needed.
The metering box (as shown in the image to the right) can also be used for homeowners to gain money from energy suppliers. The metering box shows how much electricity is generated from the PV panels. The generated electricity that is not used by the homeowner can also be used to help supply electricity for the electrical grid.
-involves the use of other mechanisms to make electricity or heat
-solar panels are used to absord solar energy to be used in solar water heaters to provide heat/cool air to a building (solar collectors) or to convert sunlight into electricity by using a semi-conductive panel to generate electricity when stimulated by the sun
-other active solar power systems are:
-solar power towers
"Why do you think this form of generating electricity will or will not become the principal source of electricity in the future?"
I think that solar energy could become the principle energy source because although it is expensive to install initially, there will most likely be an overall decrease in utility taxes and money earned from energy suppliers could be enough to recover the amount of money that was lost due to installations. Also, solar energy is environmentally-friendly, which is something everyone should be looking for, due to the impact of global warming on animals everywhere. The sun is guaranteed to be around for billions of years, so despite the fact that the sun is not available all 24 hours of the day, it will be available for billions of years. The advantages greatly outweigh the disadvantages and for these reasons, I believe that solar energy should become the principle source of electricity in the future.