Why is Solar Energy important and where did it begin?

Solar Energy has many benefits to people and the environment

Solar energy is not a new phenomenon and has been around since the early 1800’s. Before that, sunlight was used to light fires with magnifying glass materials. Man has always known that the sun holds immense power however, how that energy is harnessed and in turn used to generate power has developed and changed dramatically over the centuries.

In 1954 Daryl Chapin, Calvin Fuller, and Gerald Pearson’s created the silicon photovoltaic (PV) cell. It is said that this is when solar technology actually powered an electric device for several hours in a day and thus it marked the first ‘solar panel’.

But why is solar power so important?

Firstly, it is a renewable energy source that combats many energy problems around the world. Secondly, it is versatile as a power source with many benefits to people and the environment. In the late 1700s and 1800s, power ovens were powered for long journeys by sunlight by re-searchers and scientists. Solar powered steamboats were also very successful by harnessing the power of the sun. It is clear that even before the era of solar panels, the concept of manipu-lating the power of the sun was a common practice.

In modern day times, the use of the sun’s energy has been used in a myriad of ways:

  • Solar panels in space
  • First solar residence
  • Solar conversion efficiency
  • Solar powered airplanes
  • Solar powered residences
  • Reducing the cost of energy

Why is solar energy important in South Africa?

In a country where government supplied resources are dwindling, more and more South Afri-cans are looking for ways to generate their own power. Solar panels are becoming more popu-lar on businesses and homes alike as the shift leans towards renewable energy.

Solar power, holds the most potential in South Africa, because of the large amounts of radiative energy due to the country’s geographical location. Solar power can also be used almost any-where in South Africa making it an excellent alternative to coal-powered stations.
The benefits are:

  • The sunlight received by earth in one hour is enough to meet the annual energy needs of peo-ple worldwide
  • Solar energy is clean and safe
  • Solar power can restrict climate change as it produces no carbon emissions
  • Cost efficient

The importance of solar energy cannot and should not be underestimated and it will play a big role in saving the environment, helping people socially and economically.