There is no doubt that solar energy is the future of energy. There is no need to highlight the constant search mankind has endeavor for cleaner and more efficient ways to supply energy. And the sun, once again, has come to the rescue. The beneficial effects of the sun impact on every aspect of life on the planet, from the smallest most humble forms of life to human beings. Without the sun it would be impossible to sustain any form of life. And, even more, sunlight has increasingly become a source of cheap and clean energy. You can make your own solar panels, and start little by little to make yourself independent of an obliged supplier: the power company. Start with a device, a water heater, for instance, or heating for one room. Pretty soon you will feel confident enough, as you gain the experience, to attempt bigger plans, such as completely relying on the sun to cover all your energy needs.
Before you make your own solar panels, here are some facts on how solar energy works, how it is collected and storage. Solar cells, also called photovoltaic (PV), are the core of any sun-powered device. They shyly started to be seen in small devices like calculators, half a century ago. Yes, that long, amazing, right? Solar cells were first developed in 1958. Remember how we used to play by covering the cell with one hand, and the calculator would turn off. The same technology started to be used in satellites in outer space; to cover the supply needs of power for this man made space crafts. Solar cells can "capture" up to 1.000 watts of energy every square meter. A group of cells is called a solar panel.
Solar cells are made of semiconductors, a special type of element that has the property of releasing electrons when in presence of a source of energy, in this case, the rays of the sun. These free electrons will circulate, thus energy is produced. The stage that has proven most difficult to achieve is storage. So far, solar energy has been stored in batteries, like car batteries. Batteries have chemical substances that de-compose and release ions -electrically charged particles. As the energy is used, the substances inside the batteries turn back to their original chemical composition. This system has proven to be somewhat inefficient, due to the limited capacity batteries have. A large number of batteries would be required to store and supply energy to a regular family home, let alone bigger consumers, like a factory or a car. Hence, new ways of storing energy had to be developed.
First it was the sun that came to our rescue. Now, the water does. Yes, plain water has the capacity to store energy, basically based on the same principle batteries work: by decomposing a substance. In this case, water is decomposed in its two composing elements: oxygen and hydrogen. Then, these two gases can be recombined inside a battery, providing pollution free cheap energy.