Solar energy is an amazing source of renewable energy that is provided by the sun. The sun creates energy in two ways- through light and through heat. Solar energy is highly beneficial to the environment as it is alternative energy and can be used instead of conventional energy sources, such as uranium, coal, oil and gas. These conventional sources of energy produce many by-products which can harm the environment unlike solar energy which is renewable, meaning it won’t run out, and produces minimal by-products. It is also a lot cheaper in the long run.

It has always been used to dry clothes and food. But it has only been since 1954 that the sun has been used to create electricity. So how is solar energy created?

It has two types:

1. Solar photovoltaic energy involves the use of photovoltaic cells or panels. They are installed on roof tops, or in areas that gain full access to the rays of the sun. They capture the sun’s energy and then turn it into electricity, therefore creating solar energy. The photovoltaic cells or panels are made up of three layers, like a sandwich. The two outer layers are silicon and have a special chemical in them. The sunlight charges electrons in the silicon. These electrons are then energised and move through the cell and flow into a wire, therefore creating an electric current.

2. Solar thermal energy is used the heat things, such as water. Energy from the sun is absorbed and then used to heat. This is a less commonly used type of solar energy in Australia.

The Australian Government has realized how important it is to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and to the increase in usage of renewable resources. Their realization saw the introduction of a solar rebate, which ended on 9 June 2009. The solar rebate was means tested and was available to households with an annual taxable income of less that $100, 000.

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