Amazing Solar Energy Facts, Part 1
We have heard it over and over from a multitude of sources – we are burning through our fossil fuels too fast, meaning not only are we going to run out, but we are also causing a huge amount of damage to Mother Earth through pollution caused by their use. It makes perfect sense then, that we should stop using these non-renewable sources of energy and instead, use a renewable, clean method of powering our homes, businesses and communities.
Yes, there is a lot of resistance to this idea and is it any wonder? Firstly, we already know how to use fossil fuels and have developed ways to use these effectively. Removing them would mean we would need to make a lot of changes. Just think of everything that’s currently powered with petrol, for example. All of these things would need to be replaced with something else, meaning every single motor powered with traditional fuels would need to be recalled, destroyed and replaced. Another reason (and almost definitely THE primary reason) is that industries – and the people who rely on them – that have built their astronomical fortunes off fossil fuels would need to give up their money train. This would mean the downfall of a lot of super rich people in a lot of very powerful places. Now, we can’t have that, can we (sarcasm, in case you didn’t realise)?
So, ultimately, removing non-renewable fuels from the equation is going to be a whole lot of work. We admit it and we regret the status quo, because if these barriers weren’t in the way of using clean, renewable energy sources, we would have been well on the way towards creating a healthier, safer and much, much cheaper future for our children and their children. There are so many good reasons to go to the trouble of getting rid of fossil fuel use though – the following list contains just a few of the hundreds of reasons.
Interesting facts about renewable energy:
- Here’s an ironic fact – solar energy actually creates fossil fuels! That’s right! Solar energy is converted into chemical energy within plants (photosynthesis) and it is this chemical energy that creates the bio-fuel that’s made into fossil fuels.
- Solar energy is 100% free and will never run out (well, it will one day, but when that day comes, the last thing humans will need to worry about is where they’ll get their electricity from!).
- Despite being 150 million kilometres away from Earth, the Sun emits light that takes less than ten minutes to reach us. Those golden rays of sunlight are easily harnessed and turned into clean, safe, unlimited and free energy by the use of solar technology.
- Solar technology is classified into either active or passive forms. A passive form of solar energy collection does not rely on mechanical devices to collect energy from the sun and includes things like greenhouses, windows letting maximum sunlight into the room and the use of dark building materials to increase heat absorbency. An active form of solar collection does rely on devices and includes things like photovoltaic panels and solar thermal collectors in order to collect and then convert the solar rays into energy.
- The upper-atmosphere of our planet receives about 174 Petawatts (a Petawatt is one billion million watts – wow!) of solar radiation from the sun. Only about 70% of this actually makes it through the atmosphere though, with the rest being reflected back into space. That extra 30% could be harnessed by solar equipment in space, which will very likely be a common thing in the future.
- Solar energy os responsible for so much more than light and heat. Rain is another effect caused by solar radiation, as the heat from the sun causes a temperature rise in the earth, oceans and atmosphere. This rise in temperature creates convection, causing warm air to rise to high altitudes, where it forms clouds through condensation. Of course, we all know what clouds do.
- Solar energy has been used by farmers since farming first began. They have used planting cycles to take advantage of the sunlight and now use greenhouses to convert light into heat, in order to grow crops at any time of year.
- Solar hot water systems use the power of the sun to heat water for general use. We as a society have the potential to power around 70% of our hot water through solar hot water systems alone (then we could heat the other 30% through energy from a photovoltaic solar system). In fact, you don’t even need fancy solar equipment to heat water – a simple black pipe system coiled onto your roof, or a black drum storage system is all that’s needed on a hot day.
- Solar chimneys – which use convection as a way to ventilate a building – have been used for centuries. The heat from the sun warms the air inside an attached chimney, and this then causes air movement.
- Besides the above uses, we also commonly use solar to dry clothes, create sun-dried foods, sterilise items that have become musty and more!