Solar energy is poised to become one of the most common sources of power as we move into the 21st century. The increasing threat of climate change and initiatives such as the Paris Climate Agreement mean renewable energy will only grow. But you may not know all the ways solar energy is leveraged. Thus, we will take a look at some solar energy examples in this post.
People don’t always realize that solar is one of the most abundant forms of energy in our solar system. It’s called a solar system for a reason: the sun is the center of our little universe. And that’s for good reason: we couldn’t live without the warmth, light, and energy it provides.
Solar Energy Examples
Now, let’s take a look at some real-world solar energy examples. Solar energy has many different uses and those uses are only increasing.
One of the most common uses for solar energy is rooftop solar panels. And, without a doubt, they will only get more common as the clean energy movement accelerates. Rooftop solar installations can be expensive upfront but are often cheaper in the long run than utility power.
Plus, many states still have incentives that can bring down the initial cost. That being said, rooftop solar is more cost-effective in some places than others. Tools such as Google’s Project Sunroof can give you a rough estimate for whether rooftop solar will be cheaper after 20 years.
Utility-Scale Solar Farms
In order to provide clean energy to the masses, it won’t be enough to just install a few solar panels on a bunch of roofs. As mentioned, the cost can be high, and it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to be able to afford it.
Thus, building out utility-scale solar farms helps us get to the root of the problem. Many places in the US and elsewhere are already building them out. Of course, This is another solar energy example that will only continue to grow.
For example, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park just outside of Dubai already has several hundred megawatts of solar capacity. And it’s expected to reach over one gigawatt by 2030. For context, that’s enough power for roughly 300,000 homes.
Solar Water Heaters
Solar water heaters are another great example of solar energy. In addition to the sun, water is of course one of our most important resources. And we have to heat it for lots of different purposes. Even if contamination isn’t a concern, we still heat water for cooking, bathing, and other uses.
Maybe you didn’t know there is equipment already out there specifically made for this purpose. There are a few different types of solar water heaters, but one example is passive solar water heaters. These heaters use convection to heat pipes which contain a fluid that then transfers heat. The way it works is quite interesting and we will likely see more of these, too.
Solar cars might seem like a novel idea, but they aren’t as new a concept as you might think. In fact, the first solar car was built in the 1950s. Although solar cars use solar panels to produce energy, they often have a battery pack to store power.
In addition, they can often be charged just like an electric vehicle. Roof-mounted solar panels can add more range and some high-end models can even do most of their driving without the need to plug in.
Portable Solar Panels
Portable solar panels, as you might guess, are great for when you are on the go. For example, camping solar panels are a great way to power your most essential devices when you aren’t near an outlet.
The best part about these portable solar panels is they come in many different shapes and sizes. Some are flexible or even foldable. Foldable solar panels can be easily carried in a backpack while you are out on a hike.
Portable solar panels illustrate one of the best things about solar energy in general which is the fact that they let you generate power wherever you are. In other words, you don’t have to rely on someone to bring the power source to you as with fossil fuels. No need; you can simply generate your own power right then and there.
Solar ventilation may not seem like a very interesting idea, but it can be very beneficial. These systems can reduce the load on your HVAC system as they cool your home during the hot summer months.
These systems can come in the form of an exhaust fan that draws cool air away from your home. Of course, solar energy is what powers the fan in this case, helping you save money overall.
Solar energy can be used in many ways to light the way. In many cases, you will see small outdoor lights with their own solar panels to produce power that doesn’t cost you a penny.
In more elaborate examples, some have proposed using solar roads to generate energy for lighting and other uses. Whatever the source, lighting is one of the easiest solar energy examples. It’s not very complicated and newer LED bulbs don’t need very much energy.
Solar Energy Examples: What’s Next?
Solar energy only looks to increase in popularity in the years ahead. More and more legislation is being introduced in the US and elsewhere, such as the THRIVE Agenda. As coal-fired power plants are phased out, solar, wind, and hydropower will pick up the slack.
Thus, we will only continue to see more solar energy examples. Solar has almost limitless applications; the only limitation is our creativity (or lack thereof). With more states and the federal government putting these policies into place, we are sure to see more solar energy solutions being developed.
After all, the only thing more abundant than how many ways we can use solar energy is solar energy itself.