Solar: Some Facts

Winter is heavily underway and the days are getting darker; feeling a need for mention of something less frosty and a hint of summer nostalgia, I turned my attention to the sun in all its photovoltaic glory. Solar power.

Solar power has become something of an increasingly popular choice for renewable, clean energy usage. Harnessing the sun’s energy for ourselves, we see solar panel’s purpose on a large scale by space crafts and on a smaller scale by way of handheld calculators. This year, a surge in solar popularity even resulted in a brief period one day in May, where solar eclipsed the UK’s eight nuclear power stations for electricity generation. With this in mind, here are 5 facts on solar.

  1. We know that the sun has produced energy for billions of years and according to National Geographic, every hour the sun beams more energy onto Earth than it needs to satisfy global energy needs for an entire year. Surplus is an understatement.
  2. Japan, Germany, and the United States are major markets for solar cells. Whilst some of the biggest solar energy plants can be found in India and China, both giants in pollution.
  3. Installing solar power has become less expensive over time, a factor in increasing demand. A 2016 statistic by the Guardian notes the wholesale price of a solar panel last year at about $0.65 per watt, compared with $0.74 per watt in 2015 and $4 per watt in 2008.
  4. The sun is 90 million miles from Earth, yet remarkably it takes less than 10 minutes for light to travel that distance.
  5. Solar energy is used for space activity, namely ‘crafts. NASA says that solar arrays that convert energy to electricity on the International Space Station, are made up of thousands of solar cells, made from purified chunks of the element silicon.

The innovation of solar power is just one of the ways we use the sun, a remarkable source for all life.

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/oct/07/how-green-is-britains-low-carbon-energy-supply

https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/various-solar-energy-facts.php

https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/solar_arrays.html

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/solar-power/

image credit: article by Alina Shah on Knowledge Overflow

 

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Rosie Alice

Environmental Studies student in Winchester, UK.

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