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Through the ages, man has thought of alternative energy sources. Wood was an initial energy source from the early days of man. Coal was introduced as a way to conserve the dwindling forests by the year 1500 as Europe teetered on the verge of catastrophic disaster. Petroleum was introduced as a way to reduce dependence on costly and hard to find whale oil. As time has passed, more ideas have been generated to produce more favorable and enduring energy sources. With worldwide interest in reducing our planet's carbon footprint, alternative energy sourcesthat can reduce our reliance upon declining stores of fossil fuels while reducing our carbon output, have been found.

Solar energy is a way to generate power from the sun. Wind energy, or use of wind turbines, harnesses power from the wind. Geothermal energy is a way to use the deep Earth's natural heat to produce electric energy. Bio-fuels, hydrogen, and nuclear power are also forms of alternative energy sources, but are under intense scrutiny due to concerns over their safety.

When an energy source is labeled as "renewable", it means that this type of energy can be replenished naturally. Wood is still the number one renewable energy and actually emits the same amount of carbon whether burned or allowed to degrade on its own.

Solar Energy

Solar energy is a cheap and green way to produce electricity from sunlight. Solar panels work to produce electricity by capturing the sun's rays by use of photovoltaic (PV) cells. These cells then convert the sunlight into electricity that can be used to power lights and appliances. While PV cells work better when there is direct sunlight, even cloudy days can generate some power as well.

Solar panels are made up of PV cells and can be attached to your home's roof or walls. The photovoltaic cells are made up of at least one and sometimes two layers of a semiconducting material. The material is usually silicon. When the sun hits a PV cell there is an electric field produced across the cell's layers.

PV Solar Panels

Photovoltaic cells come in a wide range of styles and colors. You can choose PV solar panels that look like normal roof tiles or panels that are transparent for use on glass or on top of a conservatory. Each PV cell is rated on strength based upon the amount of energy the cell can produce in full sunlight and is measured in kilowatt peak, or kWp.M

Using solar electricity is beneficial in many ways. Since solar power is green power and renewable, there is no harmful CO2 emission. In addition, PV solar panels will cut your electricity bills by around 40%, and will reduce your household's carbon footprint. You can even sell excess energy that your solar panels produce or store the extra energy in batteries for use on days that are a bit more cloudy, and when you need it.

Solar panels are a great addition to your home as long as you have considered factors such as how much sunlight your home receives each day. If your house has a roof or wall that faces south or 90 degrees within south and receives a great deal of sunlight each day, then solar panels are a good idea.

The roof must be strong enough to hold the solar panels. If you are not sure, ask a building expert or solar panel installer. Do not forget to get permission from your local housing authority before commencing work on your solar panel project, and keep in mind it is better to hire a crew to install the solar panels if you are not sure of your installation abilities. Solar panels are quite costly and it is better to have them installed properly than to risk an accident.