Solar energy is clean and harnesses the power of the sun to produce electricity which can be used to heat water for washing and cooking. Sunlight is a renewable resource that can be used optimally in locations like South Africa.
How it works
Solar panels are installed on roofs, which convert sunlight into electricity. This can be achieved either indirectly by means of photovoltaic panels (PV) or directly by concentrated solar power (CSP). Solar power can also be used to supplement or replace a building’s usual electricity supply and is often used in many businesses and homes to heat geysers.
When installing solar panels there are a few restrictions that need to be taken into account. A ready supply of sunlight is required to produce solar power. The South African climate encourages the adoption of solar power. The panels also need to be well maintained to ensure there is a continual supply of power.
Very little maintenance is required to keep solar cells running and there are no moving parts in a solar cell. This means that solar cells last for a long time before they require an annual inspection to ensure they are working optimally.
Solar radiation is a sustainable energy source that produces almost no pollution and the power generated from solar panels has a number of applications. When compared to power generated using fossil fuels, solar energy is far cheaper to produce and far more environmentally friendly.
Investing in solar energy
Over the last few decades, investment in solar energy and interest in renewable energy has increased. And it’s easy to see why. Solar power is versatile, renewable, clean and a cheaper to produce.
There is another very important reason why interest and investment in solar energy has gained so much support from various government institutions in recent years. Solar panels can be used very successfully to provide power and heating to poorer communities fairly cheaply. This alleviates unnecessary burdens on the national power grid, while simultaneously improving the lives of many underprivileged communities that either are unable to afford power or do not have access to the infrastructure.
One of the main advantages of solar power is the fact that sunlight is free and plentiful in many countries. The main cost involved lies in the installation and maintenance of the power collecting equipment. The initial outlay may be costly, but in the long run this investment harnesses an inexhaustible source of energy that will remain as long as the sun shines.
Many countries and governments including South Africa have seen the potential of solar energy and offer subsidy programmes, tax initiatives and rebate incentives, designed to encourage people to make use of solar power. As new technologies are developed, the cost of installing solar panels will more than likely decrease and the use of solar power will increase.
Solar power technology is improving consistently over time. As oil and other fossil fuel reserves decline, it is important to invest in alternative sources for energy.