The sun – our closest star and the primary source of energy for life on earth. At any given moment, 173,000 terawatts of solar energy strikes the earth’s surface – that’s roughly 10,000 times more energy than the whole world uses. This is why solar is the fastest-growing energy source today.
How does a solar panel work?
Solar panels for homes are made up of many smaller ‘solar cells’. These cells absorb light energy from the sun, which excites the electrons within the solar cell, creating an electric charge. The charged electrons then pass down into your home as an electric current to power your electrical devices. Click here to find out more about how solar panels works.
A solar cell can only generate about ½ volt on its own, so you’ll need a large number of them all working simultaneously to get a usable amount of electricity. In more practical terms, it takes 12 cells to charge a mobile phone, and a large solar array (several solar panels) to power your home.
Solar panels in the UK
It’s thought that solar panels for homes in the UK won’t work because of our typically grey and rainy weather. In fact, the advantage of solar panels is that they don’t need direct sunlight to work, and they can still generate a large amount of electricity even on overcast days. Surprisingly, the UK gets 60% of the solar energy found at the equator, and hotter, sunnier weather often leads to overheating, which hampers solar generation.
The future of solar panels
While you’ve probably seen solar panels on homes throughout the UK for some time now, what’s different about them today is that they’ve never been such good value for money. Between 2009 and 2017, solar panels have fallen in price by almost 90%, and the technological advances have seen increasingly more efficient models appear on the market. Electricity-producing solar roof tiles, walls and windows are cited to replace traditional building elements in the near future, and solar panels that generate electricity from rainfall are currently in test phase.
From fighting global warming to significantly reducing your electricity bills, there are a wide variety of reasons why investing in solar energy is a good idea. Take a look at the articles below for more information.