Solar Energy 101: An Introduction to the Solar Industry
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Solar Energy 101: An Introduction to the Solar Industry

With all of the concern about the current environmental crisis, a large portion of which is directly connected to the issue of energy, a lot of individuals, businesses, and government officials are starting to see the light in the solar industry. But what exactly does the solar industry entail? How does solar energy work? And who are the big players in the solar industry? To answer these questions, here is your introduction to the solar Industry and its possibilities.

What Is The Solar Industry?

The largest source of energy on our planet comes from the sun. With the pressing and immediate need for clean, safe, and renewable energy effecting every aspect of our lives, many pioneering businesses have delved into the industry built on the idea of harnessing the sun's energy to power everything from homes to business to farm equipment and even transportation. With this boom in the demand for solar energy this new industry was born and is experiencing great growth which, in turn, is creating tons of great new job opportunities in the public and private sectors. There are even some projects such as Winter Isle and The Sea Colonies Project that aim to create self sustaining societies that are completely off of the grid and rely solely on solar or other alternative sources of energy.

How Does Solar Energy Work?

The Law of Conservation of Energy (Or the First Law of Thermodynamics) states that energy is something that can neither be created nor destroyed but is merely converted from one form into another. A great example of this principle is the human body. When we eat nutritional food, our bodies take the energy that is stored in the food and converts it into the type of energy that our bodies can use to give us the get up and go we need to function.

Solar energy works on the same basic concept. Photovoltaic devices (PV's) which are more commonly known as solar cells, are filled with different layers of material, such as silicon, which absorb the energy from the sun and then convert it into a usuable form, such as electricity. These cells are linked together in solar panels that produce energy to be used in powering homes, businesses, farm equipment, even sails and automobiles. This conversion takes place entirely within the solar cells themselves with no moving parts to break down. Also, there are no emissions from the process which gives you a completely clean, safe, and renewable source of energy that also happens to be free and readily available without the need for mining, drilling, or transporting dangerous materials. The materials used to make the solar panels are non-toxic and can even be taken from the waste of other industries to create the raw materials for them. Depending on the exact specifications of a particular model of solar panels, a location in the US northeast using a 5kw (kilowatts) system could generate about 500 kilowatt hours of electricity every month using only about 300 square foot of roof space.

Who Are The Leaders In The Solar Industry?

Given the great benefits for the environment and the general population in using solar energy it is no wonder that an entire industry is developing around this renewable energy source. Everything from research and development, manufacturing, wholesalers, retailers, marketing professionals, and installers are all finding employment with this environmentally friendly industry. There are existing and upcoming solar power stations all over the world including California, Arizona, New Mexico, Germany, Austrailia, and Spain just to name a few many which will be coming online by 2011, providing thousands of new jobs from companies like BrightSource Energy Company, Solar Systems, Eskom, TruEnergy, and Pacific Gas and Electric. Leading the way in individual solar alternatives for powering your house or business as well as providing solar lighting and water heaters are companies such as First Solar, BP Solar, Green Brilliance, and Signet Solar. The growing demand for workers in the solar industry is growing so much that the company Solar Staffing has developed to help interested parties get training and find employment in the renewable energy industry.


To find out more about the solar industry, businesses, and communities involved in the solar industry check out some of these links.

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Comments (3)

Thanks for the article nikirayne! I lost my job as a paralegal earlier this summer and have been trying to learn about the green industry as there are a lot of those kinds of jobs opening up here in California. Guess it's doing well, seems like a lot of hiring. I didn't think much about solar in particular though.

I think solar and other alternative energy industries are going to do very well since they are the only chance we have with the fact that oil is running out as is coal, so there will be lots of new jobs in these fields I think. Good luck with the new job search!