Introduction to Solar Power

Solar Panel

Prior to photovoltaics (PV), electricity was derived from fossil fuels - be it coal, petroleum, natural gas or nuclear energy. Believe it or not, these fossil fuels were generated through photosynthesis - plant life absorbing energy from the sun, and animals consuming the plants for food energy. Eventually, the plants and animals die, and over many thousands of years, their remains may become fossilised. For fossilisation to occur, the remains must become buried, with much pressure and heat.

Even today, the sun plays a huge role in providing our non-electrical energy needs. All the food we eat is available because the sun provides plant and animal life with the energy needed to grow. The sun will continue to shine (a good thing for a long time to come), but the ancient fossil sources are being consumed quicker than they are produced (though natural processes). Relying on fossil fuels for electrical power generation is bound to result in shortages in the not too distant future. Although the fossil fuels were created as a result of solar energy, these take far too long to produce. Another solution is required to generate electricity more directly from the sun.

With the oil crisies and global warming (climate change) in recent years, energy is becoming a very contentious issue. It is fuelling research into renewable energy sources, with Solar PV being one of the front runners.

Other renewable energy sources, such as wind and hydro, are possible due to a indirect result of the solar energy. The sun causes weather patterns on earth, leading to winds, which drive the turbines. Rain causes rivers to flow, which allows hydro power to harvest energy from flowing water. As you can see, the sun's energy is responsible for the other renewable energy sources, but nothing is as direct as solar PV. Solar PV generates electricity as a direct result of the sun's rays striking the solar cells.

On this website, we will be primarily discussing small scale do-it-yourself solar PV systems. Our philosophy is that solar energy should be affordable for all. If you cannot afford a commercially installed solar PV system, why not start small with your very own DIY system? DIY systems can teach a lot about how photovoltaics work.

Reasons for using solar energy

In today's increasing impact of rising energy costs, society is turning to renewable energy options to reduce the high costs and reduce the impact on the environment.

Solar Photo-voltaics (PV) is one of the most viable methods of generating electricity to supplement, or even replace gid power. The technology has matured to the point where commodity solar PV components are now cheap and plentiful. Solar PV is no longer the expensive, exotic alternative energy systems that it used to be.

The energy from the sun is free, and by harnessing it, you can:

See the benefits of solar PV.

Case study

Weboggle, the online multiplayer boggle word game website, is partially powered by solar PV.