Solar Energy Facts – Solar energy is the oldest source of energy in the world. It has been used by plant, animal, and microbial life as a primary energy source since the beginning of life on Earth. But only recently have human beings been able to capture solar energy so that it can be used at all times of day and night, and in all weather, stored and transferred. Solar power today is one of the most exciting and efficient sources of energy, and it is with this in mind that we present you some of the most interesting solar energy facts.
Each year, the earth’s atmosphere absorbs 3.85 million exajoules of energy from the sun. This probably doesn’t mean anything to you, but by comparison, the total use of electric energy (electricity) by all users (people) on the planet is just 56.7 exajoules. This means that in just a few hours, the earth absorbs more energy from the sun than people expend in an entire year! Solar energy is also an extremely clean source of energy because, unlike fossil fuels such as coal or oil, solar energy is naturally collected by almost every form of life. You’ve probably never seen a lizard dig for coal to start a fire, but you probably have seen one lie on a rock and absorb solar energy. Solar energy is probably the most environmentally sound energy option available today.
So what is solar energy able to do for our environment, you might be wondering. Each year, humans consume 467 exajoules of energy through primary power sources: burning coal, gasoline, and oil, as well as ‘green’ sources like wind, solar, and hydro power. If we could capture just 10% of the sun’s energy, we would be able to replace all of the fossil fuel sources and have enough room for growth. Straightforward solar energy facts like this make it clear how much better solar energy is for the environment and how big the potential is for solar energy growth.
Solar Energy Facts
Now that you’ve read a few of the most striking solar energy facts and have an idea about what solar energy can do for the Earth, you’d probably like to know precisely what solar energy is. Simply put, solar energy is the heat and light energy given off by the sun. Each day the sun releases a huge amount of energy from the chemical reactions which constantly occur on its surface. About 30% of the sun’s energy that reaches the earth is immediately reflected back by the atmosphere, and another 20% is absorbed into the atmosphere. However, close to 50% of the energy reaches the earth, where it fuels photosynthesis in plants, maintains both hot tropical and warm temperate climates, maintains the temperature of the ocean, and helps animals keep alive. All of this is accomplished without any pollution or destruction of natural resources.
Many people do not understand how solar energy works on the technical level, and so they wonder ‘what is solar energy going to add to my home/business/community’. In the last three decades, solar energy technology has been developed at a rapid rate. Solar energy is collected at several large plants in the U.S., Spain, Australia, and in other nations, where it provides power directly to the power grid. This means many homes in southern Spain receive electricity generated by the sun. Among the least-known solar energy facts is that solar power can also be used on a much smaller scale. Solar energy panels on the tops of homes and businesses, can produce a portion (or all) of the energy these buildings need. On an even smaller scale, solar panels are used in India and Indonesia to disinfect water, and small solar burners in other parts of the world are used to cook food. Solar energy can be used to power almost any process you can think of, from large-scale power generation for cities to boiling a single pot of water.
What makes all of these different uses possible is the creation of a solar energy system. When speaking about solar energy systems, we usually mean complete solar power units capable of powering a building. Solar energy systems include some sort of receptor, usually a solar panel or a parabolic dish, which can absorb the heat or light energy of the sun. Depending on what type of power the panels are designed to produce, either the heat energy is transferred into a close heating system (air ducts, vents, etc.), or the light energy is transferred to batteries which store it as electricity. That energy can be stored for long periods of time is one of the most important solar energy facts, because it means it is possible to use solar power at night or during dark, rainy seasons. Another key fact is that solar power is easily converted to electricity, making it possible for this source of energy to power entire nations, not just single buildings.
Solar Energy Facts- The Cost
What is solar energy going to cost me? You might be thinking. Well, it’s great that you’re interested in solar energy, an important alternative energy source which can help us preserve our environment and maintain fuel sources. Solar energy is not as expensive as people think. A complete solar energy system for a home can cost upwards of $30,000, but this doesn’t mean you’ll be paying that much. For one, there are many different incentive programs, including tax credits, which reduce the cost of installing solar panels by more than 30%. You must also consider that you might not need a complete solar energy system – a partial system will cost significantly less, will reduce your energy bills, and will make your house more environmentally sound. Even reducing your use of fossil fuel-produced electricity by 50% is a significant step towards creating a sustainable power grid.
In this article, we’ve tried to answer the question “what is solar energy?” by giving you a lot of different solar energy facts. As you think about these solar energy facts, also think about how much value you place on the planet and on mankind’s ability to sustain itself. Even if fossil fuels don’t run out in the next 50 years, it’s likely that continued use of fossil fuels as our primary energy source will wreak environmental havoc. Investing in solar energy today may not save you money, but it may save your future and make tomorrow possible now that you have the solar energy facts.