The sun has been worshiped by civilizations for thousands of years but only now are we uncovering its true potential.
Over the course of our documented history the sun has been worshiped as a god or goddess by 19 different religions spanning the globe. It makes sense, considering the sun is one of the most powerful forces humans have ever encountered and we would not be here without it. In a ritual older than humanity itself, the sun rises each morning, nourishing life on earth and sets bringing calm across the planet. It wasn’t until the industrial revolution during the 1800’s that people started to uncover some solar energy facts and the energy potential the sun provides each day. In fact, that huge glowing ball in the sky produces enough energy each hour to solve the energy needs for all of humanity. The challenge we face today is to harness this power and effectively distribute it among the population.
Most people equate solar power with solar panels, which are a key ingredient in generating electricity from the sun. While there are many different types and layouts of solar panels they all tend to work under the same principles. The light, which is composed of photons, hits certain compounds, in particular metals, this then causes the material on the surface to emit electrons. Other compounds present on the panel reverse this process, the light striking these compounds cause it to accept electrons. The combinations of these two compounds work together, creating the flow of electrons and forcing them through a conductor, thus creating electricity. This process is known as the photo-electric effect. Commonly, solar panels are known as photovoltaic panels, the term photovoltaic simple means sunlight converted into the flow of electrons or electricity.
Solar power is a rapidly developing source of renewable energy across the globe, as the potential for using the sun to directly supply our energy needs is significant. There were studies completed in 2009 that found the four main barriers to the adoption of solar energy: cost, complexity, misinformation and inertia. In recent years the costs have subsided dramatically, in some cases up to 90 percent of the costs can be offset by rebates and energy credits. With the planet receiving around 1,366 watts of direct solar radiation per square meter, it is estimated that we would only need about 6.4 percent of the total landmass in the United States to power the entire planet. An interesting solar energy fact is that with over 99 percent of the energy our sun provides going to waste, humanity continues to burn fossil fuels helping increase the effects of global warming.
With new technologies, like solar paint technology, emerging every day, it will become easier and cheaper to convert from traditional energy methods to renewable energy. A NASA website explained the amount of energy potential the sun produces in a simple example. If you had a bridge of ice that was a mile thick and 2 miles wide extending from the Earth to the Sun, the Sun’s energy could melt it less than one second. Imagine if we said the same thing about finding that much oil or gold somewhere in Texas, it would be mass drilling and mining. We just need the world to wake up and want to take advantage of the free and renewable energy our sun produces each day.