Solar Energy, Tonya Topel

Solar Energy 101

Solar energy is on the rise in the United States. According to the International Energy Agency, solar energy has become the world’s fastest-growing source of power — marking the first time that solar energy’s growth has surpassed that of all other fuels. Although solar energy is on the rise, not many know the basics of it so here is an overview of what solar energy is.

How Can It Be Used

Solar energy is generated from the light or heat of the sun, which is why many think of solar panels when they think of solar energy. The energy produced can be used for a variety of things such as generating electricity, hot water, light, etc. Solar energy can also be used to power home appliances, televisions, computers, and even heat and cool your home. The traditional way to get energy is by burning fossil fuels, which is a significant cause of global climate change and will eventually run out.

Collecting Energy

The most potent source of energy comes from the sun — so it only makes sense to use that energy to power our lives. The sun releases tiny packets of energy called photons. According to the American Energy Independence magazine, every hour, enough photons impact our planet to generate enough solar power to theoretically satisfy global energy needs for an entire year.

The process of transforming light from the sun into energy is called solar photovoltaics (PV). Many of us have used a solar-powered calculator, which uses the same process as you would to have a solar-powered house. Furthermore, solar panels on homes and businesses convert the sun’s rays into energy and electricity by collecting electrons from the sun’s photons. Solar panels are made of multiple solar cells that have both a negative and positive layer creating an electric field. The sun’s photons give off electrons that excite a solar panel’s electric field, producing electricity.

Cost Benefits

Investing in solar energy is just that — an investment. The money you spend investing in solar panels will pay off in the long run due to energy savings. Additionally, depending on your location, federal, state, and local incentives combined can reduce the cost by as much as 50 percent. Typically those who invest in solar energy will receive a 30 percent tax credit.

Solar energy allows you to use the most powerful source of energy, the sun, to power your home or business. Solar energy only accounts for a small share of the United States total electricity generation but is on the rise. Protect the environment and consider investing in solar energy!

Tonya Topel is passionate about creating a healthier and cleaner environment, which led her to work for a renewable energy company. Read more of her solar energy blogs or check out her Twitter!

Originally published at on March 12, 2018.