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Solar Energy Facts
   
solar install by bkusler on Flickr

  • Every hour the sun beams onto Earth more than enough energy to satisfy global energy needs for an entire year. 
  • Solar energy is the technology used to harness the sun's energy and make it usable. 
  • Today, the technology produces less than 1/10th of one percent of global energy demand.
  • Many people are familiar with so-called photo-voltaic cells, or solar panels, found on things like 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 generate electricity.

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Wayne National Forest Solar Panel Construction by Wayne National Forest on Flickr

  • On a much larger scale, solar thermal power plants employ various techniques to concentrate the sun's energy as a heat source. 
  • The heat is then used to boil water to drive a steam turbine that generates electricity in much the same fashion as coal and nuclear power plants, supplying electricity for thousands of people.
  • In one technique, long troughs of U-shaped mirrors focus sunlight on a pipe of oil that runs through the middle. 
  • The hot oil then boils water for electricity generation. 
  • Another technique uses movable 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.

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Port of San Diego's Green Port Program by Port of San Diego on Flickr

  • Other solar technologies are passive. For example, 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 building 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 inexhaustible fuel source that is pollution and often noise free. The technology is also versatile. For example, solar cells generate energy 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.

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Wayne National Forest Solar Panel Construction by Wayne National Forest on Flickr

  • Solar energy doesn't work at night without a storage device such as a battery, and cloudy weather can make the technology unreliable during the day. 
  • Solar technologies are also very expensive and require a lot of land area to collect the sun's energy at rates useful to lots of people.
  • Despite the drawbacks, solar energy use has surged at about 20 percent a year over the past 15 years, thanks to rapidly falling prices and gains in efficiency. 
  • Japan, Germany, and the United States are major markets for solar cells. 
  • With tax incentives, solar electricity can often pay for itself in five to ten years.
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Solar Panels All Done! by Clownfish on Flickr

  • Solar energy is all around us everyday. Without it, we would not exist. 
  • When we wake up in the morning or sleep at night, it provides us with light and warmth. 
  • When we talk about solar energy, most people think about solar panels, however, wind energy, non-renewable fossil fuels (petroleum, gas and coal) and hydro-power would not exist without the sun’s involvement and are in fact another variation of solar energy. 
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Solar Panels by dirvish on Flickr

  • The sun has been around for about 4.5 billion years and is expected to be around for another 4-5 billion years. 
  • The output of solar energy that the sun delivers to earth is absolutely enormous. 
  • Theoretically, if we could harness the energy from one hour of sunlight from around the world, it could provide the energy needs for the entire world’s population for a year! 
  • Further, it should also be noted that only about 50% of the sun’s energy actually reaches the surface of the earth. 
  • In addition to being abundant, solar energy is both clean and renewable and available almost anywhere on our planet.

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Wayne National Forest Solar Panel Construction by Wayne National Forest on Flickr

  • Power from the sun makes life on earth possible–and always has. Isn’t it interesting that we refer to solar power as “alternative energy”? 
  • Technological advances over the past couple of decades have made solar power into an efficient and affordable source of electricity, in addition to everything else the sun does for us. 
  • It makes sense to call it an alternative in comparison to burning fossil fuels or using nuclear plants. 
  • The more electricity we can get from the sun, the less we will have to suffer the environmental and geopolitical consequences of these other fuels. 

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Urban Oasis - Birmingham by Lee Jordan on Flickr

  • It is an interesting point that solar technology is advancing at a rapid speed each day. 
  • The cost that one may incur when purchasing solar panels has decreased dramatically in the recent years. 
  • For this reason, many home owners have established solar systems within their homes on their dwellings without straining financially. 
  • Moreover solar energy is becoming an ubiquitous technology in the sense that it is more accessible and cost effective now than it was a decade ago. 

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Arizona State University goes solar! by kevindooley on Flickr

To get most out of solar panels, install the panels on a relatively large area. You can easily add more solar panels to meet increasing energy needs.

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Sheep Checking Us Out at the Person County Solar Park by joanna8555 on Flickr

Did you know that the solar energy today is as old as the Earth? Yea, the solar energy was made when the Earth was made, over 6,000 years ago!

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