How does solar powered energy work?

Every day the sun bathes the Earth in enough energy to fulfill all the world’s power needs many times over. By it’s very nature the sun as an energy source is extremely powerful due to the fact that it holds an unlimited supply of potential energy. Energy Smart PTY Ltd Moreover the sun’s radiation doesn’t give off any harmful carbon dioxide emissions in the process – unlike other energy sources we commonly use across the globe including nuclear, coal, oil etc.

So how do we go about converting the sun’s mass of potential energy into a utilisable power source?

In general when sunlight beams down from the sun and hits an object the sun’s energy is automatically converted into heat – explaining why we all feel warm when walking around on a sunny day. However, when light hits specific materials such as those utilised in the production of Solar PV panels, the energy is instead converted into an electrical current. This electrical current can then be used to power your home, car, electrical equipment etc.

Most of us use an awful lot of energy in the day-to-day process of running our homes and therefore Solar PV panels are now being installed by homeowners across the globe in order to capture the sun’s energy via their roof top and convert it – for free – into enough electricity to power their property. This process reduces the property owner’s energy bills and carbon footprint whilst also adding value to their home. In addition to this many Governments, including ours here in the UK, offer incentives whereby all the excess energy produced by the home owner’s solar panels is sold back to the national electricity grid via the electricity supplier; earning the home owner an income from their solar PV panels often known as a “feed-in tariff (FIT)”.

Is solar powered energy a viable energy source for homes based in the UK?

The number of hours of solar radiation available to convert into solar power varies depending on whereabouts in the world you live. As a whole the UK is able to benefit from 60% of the hours a country situated on the equator is able to, as an example. However 60% is perfectly sufficient to generate enough solar power to run the average home.

The number of hours also fluctuates dependant upon where exactly in the UK you live. The solar radiation map on the left should give you an indication of how many hours of solar powered energy your home could benefit from (on average). Click on the map to see an enlarged version.

As an example a home in South Yorkshire will benefit from between 900-950 kw/h per meter squared of solar PV panels they have installed.