The Sun has been providing energy for millions of years and in abundance. Earth receives 173,000 Terawatts of Solar Energy continuously. That is 10,000 times the world’s total energy use.1
We have used Sun’s energy in one way or another to live on this planet. Weather it be using Sun to dry our clothes or to grow our crops. Without this energy, there would be no life on earth.
Around 1950s, the PhotoVoltaic systems were invented.
Photo = Light
Voltaic = Electricity
PhotoVoltaic systems essentially use sunlight to create a chemical reaction (in silicon cells for most cases) to create electricity.
PhotoVoltaic systems have progressed from the first few experiments to be mass produced in the recent years and with advancements in technology, become an attractive alternative to fossil fuels.
So, how does Solar Power work in a layman’s terms?
Well, let me try and paint a picture with all players involved:
Let’s use my house which has Solar Power that is connected to the grid as an example (is the case for all urban houses).
- The Sun’s energy is captured by Solar panels and converted to DC (Direct Current).
- The DC travels to the Solar Inverter which converts the DC to AC (Alternating Current).
- The AC gets used in the house to power household appliances.
- Any excess is sent back to the grid.
When the Sun goes down and there is no energy from the panels, the house draws power from the grid. To use Solar Power at night, we need storage. And batteries are a whole different topic.