Where is Solar Energy Found?
installation of the Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE) satellite.
Built by Orbital Sciences Corporation (OSC), SORCE will study and measure
solar irradiance as a source of energy in the Earth’s atmosphere.
In countries with plenty of sunshine, such as Cyprus and Greece, it has long been the custom to mount a water tank on the roof of your house as a somewhat primitive, but effective use of the sun’s heat to provide domestic hot water. For the rest of the world other forms of heating such as oil and gas have always been relatively cheap, so solar energy has largely been ignored. The reasoning has always been that if you do not have constant sunshine, why bother with solar energy?
The answer to that is that the remaining oil reserves of the world are said to have a life of just 50 years and although coal reserves are more extensive, even these are expected to run out by the middle of the 23rd century.
Meanwhile solar energy is expected to last for at least another 5 billion years.
Solar energy, or getting energy from the sun is nothing new. Ancient cultures used energy from the sun to keep warm by starting fires from the sun’s rays. Buildings were designed to capture the sun’s heat.
Photovoltaics were discovered as long ago as 1839 when the French physicist Edmond Becquerel found that electric current in certain materials could be increased when exposed to light., but it was not until 1905 that Albert Einstein was able to clearly describe the photoelectric effect, which is the principle on which photovoltaics is based.
Solar cells have been around since the mid 1950s and provided essential power to the earliest space satellites. These first cells had an efficiency of about 6%, meaning that only 6% of the energy that hit its surface got converted into electricity. Today’s cells have efficiencies in excess of 20%.
Initially these cells were cripplingly expensive, which was one of the reasons why they did not get much attention, but in the 1970s new designs were able to bring down costs by about 80%.
This immediately opened up whole new markets, making solar energy an attractive proposition not only for lighthouses, off-shore oil rigs and remote homes, but also for the general domestic market.
Given that, a typical solar system could produce about 40% of the home’s annual electricity consumption….More at Solar Day 2012 – The Earth Times
Ultimately, we find solar energy everywhere; it is really more about the incentives people and industries are given to start utilizing it.
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