Harnessed Power—Solar Energy

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By Gina Weidie

Solar energy is the technology used to harness the sun’s energy and make it useable. Every hour, the sun beams more energy onto our Earth—much more than is needed to satisfy energy needs throughout the world for an entire year.

Many are familiar with so-called photovoltaic cells, or solar panels, found on things like spacecraft, rooftops and handheld calculators. The cells are made of semiconductor materials like those found in computer chips. When sunlight hits the cells, it knocks electrons loose from their atoms. As the electrons flow through the cell, they generate electricity.

On a much larger scale, solar-thermal power plants use several techniques to harness the sun’s energy to produce a concentrated heat source. The heat is then used to boil water to drive a steam turbine that generates electricity.

In harnessing solar power, one technique uses long troughs of U-shaped mirrors to focus sunlight on a pipe of oil that runs through the middle. The hot oil then boils water to generate electricity. Another technique uses moveable mirrors to focus the sun’s rays on a collector tower, where a receiver sits. Molten salt flowing through the receiver is heated to run a generator.

Other solar technologies include placing big windows on the sunny side of a building to allow the sunlight to flow to heat-absorbent materials on the floor and walls. These surfaces then release the heat at night to keep the building warm. Similarly, absorbent plates on a roof can heat liquid in tubes that supply a house with hot water.

Solar energy is lauded as an inexhaustible fuel source that is pollution and noise-free. The technology is also versatile. For example, solar cells generate energy for far-out places like satellites in Earth orbit and cabins deep in the Rocky Mountains as easily as they can power downtown buildings and vehicles.

As more of you witness the impact on your utility bills and the ways you home can attain energy efficiency and reach clean energy goals, now is a great time to consider solar options. (Read about benefits in March 2021 Destin Life (https://mydestinlife.com/nows-a-great-time-to-consider-solar-options).

I represent the homeowner and work with reputable providers whose vision is to pursue sustainable energy in our area. Currently, we are conducting electric bill evaluations. See our coupon on p. 47. Call me, Gina Weidie, with your questions at (985) 317-9583. Put the Sun to Work for You!