Solar energy in households
The sun’s energy can be harnessed in different ways depending on how you would utilize the end product. There are so called solar collectors which are placed on the roof tops or used in buildings. The main purpose of these solar collectors is to provide heating and even ventilation for the houses and buildings. These collectors harness the sun’s energy by magnifying the sunlight several times and transferring that heat to air or water. That heated air or water is stored and will provide the building or home heating and hot water whenever needed.
The only problem here is that not all places have equal amounts of sunlight. As you go farther from the equator, the strength of the sun is reduced. But still, this is a much better solution than relying on electric grids which do not reach remote areas. It is just a mater of storing the heat generated from the solar collector properly. For example, some buildings in Sweden utilized an underground storage facility where solar energy is stored resulting to savings from heating the building and their water.
In areas where gas and fuel are out of reach of the pockets of poor communities, residents have to rely on solar cooking for their meals. They use this bowl shaped discs equipped with mirrors or reflectors which directs all the sunlight on the middle where a pot is placed. The same technology is being used in India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. This serves are a good alternative from conventional fuels like coal, firewood, and gas. They can use these solar stoves during a sunny day and use traditional fuels when the weather is not that good.
This reliance by communities on solar cooking should encourage more studies on how to make photovoltaic cells cheaper for an ordinary household. At this time, the use of solar cells is not economically friendly for a single household. However, the approach here is to install a series of solar panels which would be shared by the whole community. This could be a good idea depending on your usage, but for basic lighting purposes these could work in small poor communities.
In some areas, community cooperatives have found ways to bring electricity to households out of reach of power grids. In the Philippines for example, a local cooperative provided households loans to enable them to install a basic solar power module which can produce enough electricity for three light bulbs. This ay be laughable in our standards but to these people who have been living all their lives with the flickering light of the candles, three electric light bulbs make a great deal of a difference.
The story is the same in other countries. In Israel, the high costs of photovoltaic cells have clamped down the growth of solar energy in the country. It if fortunate, therefore, that the Israeli government is now providing incentives for households that would use solar energy.
However, according to industry analysts, the costs of solar cells production will go down as the demand increase. Also, most are hopeful that recent discoveries and advancement in technologies will find a way to bring down costs of using solar energy.
Ordinary households using solar energy is an ideal scenario that we should all strive to achieve.
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