Solar power is a great renewable resource, but it’s uses have barely been explored. While indirect solar power has been used since the beginning of man, the uses of direct solar power have barely been tapped.
The sun must make one change to make direct solar power into a usable form. Direct solar power can come in many forms. It is produced when photovoltaic cells receive sun energy and convert it into electricity. This occurs in one step, thus it is “direct”.
Fiber optic cables are a source of solar power, when they are mounted outside so they can use the suns energy to light interiors. This typically is used as an extra source of lighting and not as the sole source.
The solar thermal collector is also a type of direct solar power. It produces energy by absorbing sunlight. The surface of the collector gets warm and the resulting heat is made into energy and used in a fluid circuit.
One interesting use of direct solar power is with spacecrafts. They use it directly with the solar sail in the craft that collects sunlight to power the craft. This is a great use as a spacecraft doesn’t have a lot of room to carry fuel and it gets a lot of sun up there above the clouds.
Indirect solar power, on the other hand, has been extensively used for millions of years. This is the type of solar power that changes more than once to become usable energy. This can be seen as the result of the sun’s effects naturally on the world. Man may use the energy but the sun’s power has been concentrated.
Common crops, either grown on purpose or in the wild are an example of indirect solar power. First off, the plants apply photosynthesis to conver the suns light into energy. Then the plant themselves is eaten to produce energy, or in the case of tree limbs burned in a fire to produce energy. Plants can even be turned into bio fuels which is a great example of an indirect usage of the sun to produce energy.
Fossil fuels like coal and oil are forms of indirect solar power. Before they were turned into coal or oil, the living things that made them used the sun’s energy to survive. These fuels are not renewable, and are not thought of as solar power.
Wind turbines and hydroelectric dams are also affected by the suns energy. As the sun makes things warmer, the winds change as does the overall weather. Indirect solar power is used all the time, but the problem is that it is not renewable. When direct solar power, however, is used as much as indirect, then energy usage will be much different from what we know now.