The popularity of solar energy is increasing at a faster rate due to the fact that it is sustainable, requires little maintenance once installed, and requires no additional investment once the unit is installed.
Photovoltaic (PV) cells are mainly used to capture and convert the solar energy into electricity. However, instead of using the solar heat directly, it is also used indirectly to generate electricity as in the case of larger solar power plants that capture the heat from the sun and subsequently use it to produce steam for powering a generator.
Many parts of the developing world use solar energy to pump water in remote areas. Solar energy is also used to provide power to far off areas where direct supply from the grid cannot reach easily.
Often solar energy is used to supply power to TV and radio repeater stations i.e. automated stations that transmit signals. As the solar energy is renewable and affordable, it is also used extensively to supply power to lighthouses, buoys and aircraft warning lights on buildings and other structures.
Supplying heat is the most obvious use of solar energy. The heat can be used in residential homes. Solar energy is commonly used to heat the water supply and swimming pools. This is done by installing a photovoltaic cell on the roof to collect solar energy, which is then used to warm a heat transfer fluid that is used to heat the water itself.
The concept of using solar energy to power public transportation vehicles such as buses and trolleys is gaining popularity due to the rising petrol rates. There are plans for solar-powered bus shelters underway as well.
5. Consumer Products
Many small gadgets that require small amount of energy, such as calculators and watches often use solar energy. Recently, solar chargers are becoming more popular as they can be easily carried around everywhere and used in any place. Other products also include garden lights, solar cookers and indoor lights.