Solar Energy Facts

Find Out The Latest Facts About Solar Energy

2012 Solar Energy Facts - Fun Facts About Solar Energy

When a modern day person hears the term “solar energy” they often think about solar panels that are mounted on roofs in sunny neighborhoods. Find out how to slash your electric bill by 75% with little out of pocket expense. Although this is a part of solar energy, there is much more to it. The sun has been in existence since the beginning of time, and sunlight has been captured and used by humans in one form or another for thousands of years. Due to the benefits of the sun, we can live a much healthier life. Sunlight helps sustain our lives by causing plants and trees to grow through the process of photosynthesis, converting carbon dioxide into organic compounds. Sunlight also provides vitamin D, which aids our health. There are a lot of solar energy facts that are not only interesting, but fun to learn, and helpful to us in our everyday lives. Read on to learn more facts about solar energy. The following information is fun solar energy facts for kids and adults alike.

Interesting Facts About The Sun

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General Solar Energy Facts

Photovoltaic Energy And Its Development

The two primary technologies used today to capture solar energy are photovoltaic and thermal. Photovoltaic (PV) cells convert light energy into electricity at the atomic level. There are some materials that exhibit a property known as the photoelectric effect. This causes them to absorb photons of light, and in turn, release electrons. When these free electrons that are released are captured, it results in an electric current, or electricity. When these solar cells are used in conjunction with each other, they form solar panel. A solar panel, otherwise known as a photovoltaic module or photovoltaic panel, is a packaged assembly of many solar or photovoltaic cells. The solar panel can then be used as a component of a larger photovoltaic system, or solar array. This is then used to generate and supply electricity for residential solar power or for commercial solar panels.

In 1839, the French physicist, Edmund Bequerel was the first to note that certain materials would produce small amounts of electric current when exposed to light. Albert Einstein was the first to describe the nature of light and the photoelectric effect in 1905. Based on this knowledge, photovoltaic technology emerged. It was for his research that Einstein later won a Nobel Prize in physics.

However, it wasn’t until 1954 that the first photovoltaic module was built by Bell Laboratories. At that time, this photovoltaic module was presented only as a solar battery, since it was too expensive to commercially produce. During the 1960s, the space industry took this new technology and applied it to provide onboard power to its spacecraft. This technology advanced as a result of its applications in the space program. Due to its space applications, the reliability of PV technology increased, and the cost began to come down. It was during the energy crisis in the 1970s that photovoltaic technology gained recognition and acceptance as a source of power for non-space applications.

Solar cells are constructed from the same type of semiconductor material that is used in the microelectronics industry. The solar cell is a thin semiconductor wafer that is specially treated to form electrical polarity. One side of the material has a positive field and on the other side has a negative field. When light energy strikes the solar cell, electrons are knocked loose from the atoms in the material. If the cell is hooked to a circuit consisting of a positive and negative lead, those free electrons are captured in the form of electrical current. That electrical current, otherwise known as electricity, can then be used to power a light or some other electrical device. As a number of these solar cells are connected to each other they form a solar module, and are held together within a mounting support frame. Most of these photovoltaic modules are designed to produce 12 volts of direct current (DC). The amount of current produced is directly proportional to the amount of light that strikes the module. A number of modules can be wired together which form an array. The more modules that form the array, the more electricity they produce. Depending on the voltage and current that is desired, they may be combined in a series string or in parallel.

The most common PV devices in use today utilize a single junction (interface) to create an electric field within the semiconductor material. With a single-junction PV cell, only photons whose energy is equal to or greater than the band gap of the cell material can free an electron for current flow.

Facts About Home Solar Energy Systems

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Photovoltaic Solar Panel Facts

Modern day photovoltaic cells are constructed with a Thin-Film Solar Cell (TFSC) technology, also called a Thin-Film PhotoVoltaic cell (TFPV). These solar cells are made by depositing one or more thin layers (thin film) of photovoltaic material onto a substrate. The thickness of this material ranges from a few nanometers to tens of micrometers. Thin-film solar cells are usually categorized according to the photovoltaic material that is used. The following are some of the materials utilized in PV construction: Amorphous silicon (a-Si) and other thin-film silicon (TF-Si), Cadmium Telluride (CdTe), Copper indium gallium selenide (CIS or CIGS), Dye-sensitized solar cell (DSC), and other organic solar cells.

 

Facts about Solar Energy usage:

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Other Interesting Facts about Solar Energy:

Solar Energy Vehicle Racing

Racing of solar powered vehicles has been conducted since 1985. Australia holds the World Solar Challenge each year. The race is 1877 miles long, traveling clear across the continent. These solar electric cars max out at 90 mph or more. There is a second solar vehicle race that happens annually is the North American Solar Challenge. Each year, the course of this race is different as is the distance.

Solar Thermal Energy

Solar Thermal Energy has been used for thousands of years. It is much easier to harness than PV energy. We all know the sun gives off heat, so solar thermal energy is simply harnessing that heat via collectors and using it to power solar-powered electricity plants, roof-mounted hot water heaters or solar pool heaters. Believe it or not, but some of the largest electrical plants in the world today create electricity through the use of solar thermal energy rather than photovoltaic solar energy.

Schott, a German based solar manufacturer estimates that solar thermal electric energy costs approximately 15 cents per kilowatt hour. This is about 150% of the cost of conventional solar electric energy. Most solar thermal power plants utilize parabolic mirror arrays to concentrate solar energy. This creates extremely high temperatures. The more concentrated the heat is, the more efficient a solar thermal electrical plant is.

Facts About Current US Energy Usage

Only 8% of all of the U.S. energy comes from alternative energy sources. Solar energy accounts for only about 1% of that energy. Geothermal makes up about 5%, while wind accounts for 9%. Of the remaining sources, hydropower supplies 35%, while biofuels is about 20% and wood at 24%. China is actually the world leader in renewable energy with the United States coming in second. Learn how to make your own solar panels and save hundreds of dollars per month.

Large Solar Energy Expansions

GE is planning on building a 400 Mega-Watt solar panel factory in Aurora, Colorado in 2012, which will be the largest solar plant in the United States. They will produce enough solar panels per year to power 80,000 homes.

As of November, 2012, California regulators have licensed what is for the moment the world’s largest solar thermal power plant, a 1,000-megawatt complex called the Blythe Solar Power Project to be built in the Mojave Desert.

A lot of solar energy facts have been given in this article. Here are some questions concerning Solar Energy that should have been answered in this and related articles:

What is solar energy?

How does a photovoltaic cell work?

What is the science behind solar energy?

What is the cost of solar energy?

What is net-metering?

What is solar energy and how does it work?

What is solar PV?

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