Humanity has always needed power for its work, and for much of history, this power came from human and animal labor. Blacksmiths made tools and swords, and farmers and their horses and oxen plowed the fields. Then the Industrial Revolution arrived in England and the United States, where factories, steam power, and mass production transformed industry as we knew it, and a lot of power was needed. Human labor was still involved, but steam power became dominant, and it also propelled steam locomotives and ocean-bound vessels alike. Even as late as the 1900s and 1910s, steam power from coal engines and boilers powered vessels from small cargo ships to the famed Titanic and its two sister ships. Meanwhile, electricity emerged as another power source in the late 1800s, pioneered by both Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. Throughout the 20th century, steam power began to decline, and electricity became dominant, along with natural gas and nuclear power. However, traditional power plants have come under some criticism for their pollution, so clean, pollution-free power sources such as solar and wind farms have been devised. Now, in the 21st century, solar panels and solar energy systems are collecting solar power to create endless energy and protect the planet from further pollution. Solar companies are often hired to put such panels on building or house roofs, or to create even bigger arrays.
Is this really such a good energy source? It is simple sunlight, after all. But the power of the sun is enormous. Every day, an incredible 120,000 terawatts of solar power flows through to the earth across space, and this is 10,000 times more power than flows through all of industrial civilization at any one time. This is power on a literally astronomical scale, and for human uses, this power is effectively infinite. The sun is set to shine for another five billion years, and its energy output will certainly not waver. The sun also won’t run dry or become depleted like an oil patch or a coal seam, making it extremely renewable. This makes it an excellent investment, many would argue, since there’s no risk whatsoever of a solar energy shortage. Solar energy strikes solar panels, and this in turn excites particles in them and thus generate electricity. This creates no emissions or byproducts of any kind, and it can be done on a small or large scale alike. A private home may have its own solar panels, or an array of 10,000 of them may be at work.
Installing the Panels
Who can make use of solar panels today? Nearly any client can have them installed for the right scale of power production that they need. On a smaller scale, as mentioned above, a homeowner may have such panels installed on their roof, and they can hire the right contractors to get this job done. This also involves city and power plant inspectors to look over the home before and after the panel array is installed, to ensure that everything is built properly. Once the panels activate, they can provide all of a home’s power needs, and the home will be removed from the electric grid. As a bonus, the home may even generate a surplus of power and send it to a local energy plant for a profit. The same may be done for individual office buildings, too, which may have a few or a dozen panels on their roofs.
Solar panels can and often are used on an industrial scale as well, and this technology has made a lot of advances in just the past 10 years or so. Such panels are more efficient than ever and are more price friendly to install, making them a fine choice of power in sunny areas of the United States. Large arrays of hundreds or even thousands of panels are set up in remote, arid areas where there is very little cloud cover to block the sun, and such arrays may power entire neighborhoods or city blocks at a time. Just one megawatt can power 164 homes, and today’s solar panel arrays have a combined power total of 40 gigawatts. Texas and California, having a lot of sun, make particular use of such panels.