What is Solar Energy and How Does it Work?

Solar panel

sun solar energy

The sun is an incredibly powerful source of solar energy. In addition to its heat and light, the sun also produces nuclear fusion, which releases massive amounts of energy into space. The energy from the sun then radiates outward, resulting in electromagnetic radiation that ultimately reaches Earth’s surface. To understand what solar energy is and how it works, let’s first look at the size and composition of the sun. The sun is a giant ball of gas made up primarily of hydrogen and helium. It produces an incredible amount of heat and light every second.

Solar energy is a great way to reduce your energy costs, and is also a renewable source of energy. However, the sun’s availability varies depending on your location. If you live in an area with long, dark winters, for example, you may find it difficult to rely on solar energy. In this case, you will need to plan your energy needs accordingly and have a backup plan in place.

Solar energy can be harvested in a number of ways, with two major methods being photovoltaics and solar thermal capture. Photovoltaics is more common for smaller-scale electricity projects, while solar thermal capture is used for larger solar installations and utility scale projects. The latter has the added benefit of using the heat produced by the sun for heating and cooling.

The Earth receives approximately 30% of the sun’s radiation each day, which includes both visible light and infrared light. A third of the energy from the sun is absorbed into the Earth’s atmosphere, whereas the remainder is reflected away from the Earth. Greenhouse gases absorb and reflect infrared light. A few percent of the rays that do hit the Earth’s surface are absorbed, while the rest is absorbed by land and sea.

Photovoltaic cells convert sunlight into electricity. They can be installed on rooftops or wall-mounted or floating. Often, the panels are mounted at an angle so that the full benefit of the sun is obtained. The electricity generated from this energy is stored in a battery. This means that the solar panel can generate electricity even on cloudy days.

Solar electricity is becoming more affordable, and in some states, it can replace conventional power sources. Hawaii, for example, has one of the nation’s highest energy bills, which makes solar electricity even more attractive. Several major corporations have invested in the technology. In fact, last year, Shell Energy invested $200 million in a 200 megawatt solar power project near Bakersfield, California.

Concentrated solar power is another method of harnessing the sun’s power. This method uses mirrors and lenses to focus the sun’s rays and converts the heat into electricity. Some of these concentrating solar power systems are huge, generating 650 gigawatts of electricity each year. The concentrating process can even be applied to smaller devices.

The sun’s energy can be used for heating and cooling. Passive solar technology is often used in building design. Architects and engineers will align a building with the sun’s path so that it captures the sun’s energy. They can also incorporate measures to reduce a building’s overall heat output, such as thermal insulation and extra shading.

Solar energy is the most abundant source of energy on Earth. Human beings have been harvesting the energy from the sun for centuries. Today, solar energy is used to heat buildings, cook food, remove salt from seawater, and even dry clothes. As more people look to solar power as an alternative energy source, solar power is growing in importance.

The sun’s radiation also varies throughout the day, which has an effect on solar energy potential. For example, areas closer to the equator receive more sunlight than areas farther from the equator. Further, photovoltaics that follow the sun’s position can increase their solar energy potential in remote locations.

Lucille Walker

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