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Alternative Energy

The Future is Looking Bright for Solar Power Initiatives

In recent years, interest in solar energy has steadily increased among investors. Solar energy, itself, converts sunlight or radiant energy into useable electricity. Of course, the amount of electricity that can be generated is directly dependent upon weather conditions and the sun's angle in the sky.

That said, unlike fossil fuels, the availability of solar energy is limitless. Additionally, as this energy does not require large power station infrastructure, this type of energy is a much more accessible form of energy for individuals. Further, once solar infrastructure is in place, this infrastructure is essentially maintenance-free. Once the cost of the solar equipment has been recouped, the rest of the energy that you are obtaining is almost free of charge. Moreover, the price of solar energy has dropped dramatically in recent decades and the more commonplace solar energy becomes, the more economical solar energy will continue to become.

Solar energy can be obtained in a variety of different ways. Passive solar occurs when you build your house in a manner that takes advantage of the low-angle winter sun and/or when the mass of your house used to absorb the sun's heat in winter. In addition, passive solar also refers to keeping your house cooler in the winter months by making adjustment that include placing trees and awnings on southern facing windows.

Another way to take advantage of solar power is through solar panel or photovoltaic cell installations. Photovoltaic cells create energy when sunlight hits the numerous semiconductors in the cells. More specifically, the sunlight transfers its radiant energy to the conductors. To make this energy transfer more efficient, mirrors and other equipment further concentrate this radiant energy. Additionally, these concentrators make the panels less costly as the individual photovoltaic cells are generally the most costly parts of the solar panels.

As mentioned, once the costs of installing the solar panels have been recouped, the cost savings of solar energy can be significant. For instance, the SunPower Company installed twenty-four solar panels on a California-based family's roof. These solar panels resulted in significant cost savings for them; specifically, the family's electricity costs were reduced from $2350 per year to $410 per year. Besides the cost savings, the solar panels were also aesthetically pleasing - in fact, the solar panels are barely noticeable at all. Also, the family's carbon footprint was significantly reduced by 118,299 pounds. This amount is equivalent to moving thirty cars from the road or planting thirty acres of trees. In addition, SunPower offers monitoring services that allow consumers to be in complete control - permitting them to maximize their investments and save on energy expenses. As people are increasingly interested in saving money and preserving the environment, solar energy definitely looks to be quite a promising investment for various investors.

Solar Thermal is another method that people can utilize to obtain tangible energy from the sun's radiant rays. Solar Thermal consists of placing mirrors or other reflective materials so that the sun's rays are concentrated on a pool of fluid. When this liquid boils, the steam from the boiling fluid powers a turbine which then creates useable electricity. This type of solar energy is quite similar to the more conventional methods of creating tangible electricity - except that thermal solar energy does not require the use of fossil fuels to form this energy.

With respect to the future of solar power initiatives, the future is definitely looking "bright". Engineers are currently developing new solar energy technologies at the present, which can only promise to bring more efficient solar energy technology to the general public in future years. As a result, even a Forex investor like myself finds solar energy a rather fascinating industry.

Written by guest contributor Jennifer Gorton from Forex Traders

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