Solar energy is the ability to capture incoming sunlight and convert it into a clean form of electricity, but it has uses in our world beyond just powering a home or business. In this article, we explore some of the other uses for solar energy.
Changing the World
Solar electricity is changing the world. Here in America, we see it as a means to save money each month from the expense of powering our home or business, and thereby reducing pollution. But in third world nations, remote villages are gaining modern conveniences thanks to solar power. Electric water pumps, solar lighting, and even water sanitizing stations are driving changes that improve the standard of living and quality of health, and make life a little easier for many people who traditionally have had to do without.
Because solar energy does not require a long line of poles and miles of wire, the cost of building an electric infrastructure decreases and more people benefit from having electricity. This is not just true of third world nations, but even for first world nations with remote power needs.
Image via Flickr by EdMullin
We have all-electric vehicles, but solar energy can power more than just cars. In early 2015, Solar Impulse 2 took to the sky in a flight powered only by energy from the sun. The success of this aircraft points to the many uses of solar power in transportation.
In a military sense, solar bombers could travel farther because they do not require traditional refueling. Such applications surpass aviation and make their way into other areas. How much energy does it take to power a battleship? Could solar paneling be applied to vehicles such as tanks? The military use of solar energy has a lot of potential.
Trains, semi-trucks, farm equipment, buses, and even spacecraft have adapted to the benefits of solar power, but there is still room for improvement. Some forward-thinking people are applying the idea of solar energy to the construction of roads. The idea is that roads with embedded solar panels could generate enough electricity to power the entire world.
Changing the Way We Build
What is solar energy doing for construction? Our building methods are being changed by solar windows and glass. Now, gigantic glass skyscrapers can become their own source of power. That’s huge, no pun intended. Solar power is not only providing energy; it is decreasing the cost of operating large buildings. How much does it cost to provide electricity for an entire skyscraper?
The next generation of solar panels is even changing how we think about solar energy for homes and businesses. The lighter and more flexible design is lending itself to other applications besides roofs and carports. Homeowners can now take advantage of sunny walls on the sides of buildings. Such advances in solar energy are changing the way we design homes.
Changing How We Live
Solar energy is changing how we live. While solar energy allows us to live off-grid, even in remote locations, it also has an impact on how we live at home and throughout our day. A good example of this is solar-powered smart device chargers. These little tools allow us to charge our smartphones on the go. Another option for homes is solar lamps. These lamps charge up during the day and then provide solar-powered light at night. Solar-powered appliances such as water heaters provide a basic home necessity without a huge investment. Just within our homes is a large list of things that solar energy can improve. Most add convenience, while others do that while also saving you money. All of them help to contribute to a better environment and a cleaner world. A lot of solar implementations within the home can qualify for a tax credit or deduction. For a less questionable tax refund status, don’t leave out any solar improvements made throughout the year.
How we look at solar power and solar electricity is important. Solar energy is not just about electricity for your home or business, but about filling in the gaps outside of that obvious electrical usage. Solar energy is also a source of fuel. The flight of Solar Impulse 2 and the countless number of all-electric vehicles help to illustrate that point.
A bigger question for readers is, how can your life adapt to using solar energy in unconventional ways?