The Sun is a star that is full of gases, which are continuously burning. It is just like a stove or a range that emits heat when it burns. But the amount of gas contained by the Sun is umpteen times that of any other source. The burning of gases makes the Sun extremely hot. The gas that burns causes the Sun to glow as well. And this is how we get light and heat from the Sun, in the form of sunrays. This is a vicious circle that leads to the formation of energy.
What does Solar Energy Mean?
Energy is a force or rather a power which can be used to perform various tasks. Consider lifting a very heavy book. Based upon its uses, energy is classified into different types. A jar of sweets contains a lot of potential energy as there are a lot of candies in it. Roller skates have a lot of kinetic energy in them because they go so fast! Or the fire crackers that we use have a lot of chemical energy in them. Another very good example is the bulb that glows as a result of electrical energy. Similarly, the rays of the Sun which travel to the surface of the Earth, contain heat and light, and hence, they are said to possess solar energy.
To understand this concept further, stick out your palm in the Sun for a couple of minutes when the weather is sunny. You will feel that your hand is slowly turning hot. It means that the Sun's rays that contain energy are capable of heating things.
Example of a Device Using Solar Energy
One of the earliest inventions that works on solar energy is the solar cooker. Let us understand how it works. Imagine a metallic vessel full of rice and water kept in the Sun for many hours. Well it would certainly become very hot, won't it? This is because of the heating action by the Sun's rays. The solar cooker works on the same principle. The cooker is not connected to any artificial source of energy and solar heat in turn cooks the rice. The only difference is that a mirror is used to concentrate or rather reflect the rays on the vessel, so that the rice is cooked in less time. This same ability of the Sun's rays to heat things is utilized for many similar purposes. For example, bath water is heated by the Sun's rays in a solar water heater or electricity is generated by solar cell due to the incident Sun's rays. A group of solar cells is known as a solar panel.
Advantages of Using Solar Energy
The basic reward is that it's an inexhaustible source of energy. We will keep receiving solar energy as long as the Sun exists. It means that we do not have to worry about issues like shortage of gas, petrol, diesel, or electricity.
The use of solar energy also does not create smoke, thus preventing air pollution. The way our conventional energy sources are dwindling, the time is not far when solar energy might replace all other types of energies.