Each hour the sun shines onto Earth more than enough power to satisfy worldwide power requirements for the whole year. Solar power is the expertise used to control the sun’s energy and make it useable. Nowadays, the technology generates less than one tenth of one percent of global energy demand.
A lot of people are familiar with the so-called photovoltaic cells, or solar panels, found on things such as spacecraft, rooftops, and handheld calculators. The cells are made of semiconductor materials like those found in computer chips. When sunlight hits the cells, it knocks electrons loose from their atoms. As the electrons flow through the cell, they produce electrical energy.
Solar Energy Information – Important Methods
On a much larger scale, solar thermal power plants employ different techniques to draw upon the sun’s energy as a heat resource. The heat is then used to boil water to drive a steam turbine that produces electrical energy in much the same fashion as coal and nuclear power plants, supplying electrical energy for thousands of people.
Another method uses moveable mirrors to focus the sun’s rays on a collector tower, where a receiver sits. Molten salt flowing through the receiver is heated to run a generator.
Other solar technologies are passive. For instance, big windows placed on the sunny side of a building allow sunlight to heat-absorbent materials on the floor and walls. These surfaces then release the heat at night to keep the construction warm. Similarly, absorbent plates on a roof can heat liquid in tubes that supply a house with hot water.
Solar energy is lauded as an endless fuel resource that is pollution and noise free. The expertise is also flexible. For instance, solar cells produce power for far-out places like satellites in Earth orbit and cabins deep in the Rocky Mountains as easily as they can power downtown buildings and futuristic cars.
Solar Energy Information – what Makes it So Important
However solar energy does not work at night without a storage device such as a battery. Cloudy weather can play spoilsport during the day. Solar technologies are also very pricey and require a lot of land area to collect the sun’s energy at a practically commercial rate. Regardless of its drawbacks, solar energy use has surged at about 20 percent a year over the past 15 years, thanks to fast falling raw material prices and vast improvement in efficiency. Japan, Germany, and the United States are major markets for solar cells. With tax incentives, solar electrical energy can easily pay for itself in 5 to 10 years.
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Solar Energy Information