600 Solar Power Facts
The heat of the sun is about equivalent to burning a billion trillion tons of coal an hour. Even though only a small fraction of that heat ever reaches the earth it is still more then enough to power the whole world. People seemed to realize the importance of the sun around 30,000 BC. This was when people first started planting crops of wheat. They realized plants did better when planted in the sun over the shade. This caused them to worship the sun as a God. Many cultures built large and extravagant temples to worship the sun in. Other cultures built places to observe the sun in, such as Stonehenge in England.
Solar energy is any type of energy generated by the sun. Solar energy is created by nuclear fusion that takes place in the sun. Fusion occurs when protons of hydrogen atoms violently collide in the sun’s core and fuse to create a helium atom. This process, known as a PP (proton-proton) chain reaction, emits an enormous amount of energy. In its core, the sun fuses about 620 million metric tons of hydrogen every second. The PP chain reaction occurs in other stars that are about the size of our sun, and provides them with continuous energy and heat. The temperature for these stars is around 4 million degrees on the Kelvin scale (about 4 million degrees Celsius, 7 million degrees Fahrenheit). In stars that are about 1.3 times bigger than the sun, the CNO cycle drives the creation of energy. The CNO cycle also converts hydrogen to helium, but relies on carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen (C, N, and O) to do so. Currently, less than 2% of the sun’s energy is created by the CNO cycle.
At the present energy set-up nuclear energy provides around 20% of world's electricity. This energy is produced naturally -- by the sun and other stars making heat and light- and artificially-electricity from nuclear power plants. The nuclear power plants produce more energy using less fuel compared to the fossil fuels and hence it is seen as an environmentally friendly energy source (Ansolabehere, et al., 2003). However, the true scope of the consequences of developing nuclear energy has been realized through rather very unfortunate lessons. When names like Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Hiroshima and Fukushima are mentioned the only thought that runs the minds of many must be disaster. Nuclear plants pose a great danger to the surrounding community in case of any accident. Although, the chances of an accident ever happening are very minimal this has not counteracted the fear people have towards nuclear energy producing plants.
In brief, solar energy is an important source of energy. Advancements in technology has led to innovations of applications of solar energy that are of great help to human beings. It has been a great era of modern society whereby solar energy has been appreciated through its applications. The uses of solar energy are similar to those of other sources of energy. Everything has its pros and cons and solar energy is no different. The pros of solar energy outweigh the cons and that is why its use has been maintained over the years. Not only does saving the environment a priority in using solar energy but also the fact that solar energy is free, renewable and inexhaustible. What a great deal?
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Bradford, T. (2006). Solar Revolution, the MIT Press, Massachusetts.
Reyes, V. d. (2007). Bio-fuel,. De La Salle University, Dasmarinas.
Scheer, H. ((1995)). Solar energy's economic and social benefits. Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, 555-568.