Solar power is a form of energy harnessed from the power and heat of the sun’s rays. It is renewable, and therefore a “green” source of energy.
The most common way of harnessing energy from the sun is through photovoltaic (PV) panels – those large, mirror-like panel you’ve likely seen on rooftops, handheld solar devices, and even spacecrafts. These panels operate as conductors, taking in the sun’s rays, heating up, and creating energy (and electricity).
Just like wind power, solar power is a virtuality unlimited and inexhaustible resource (unlike power produced from expandable fossil fuels). As technologies improve and the materials used in PV panels become “greener”, the carbon footprint of solar power becomes smaller and smaller and the technique become more accessible to the masses.
Similarly to wind power, solar power is contingent upon the weather and the amount of sunshine present in a specific location. This means that geographical areas lacking in sunlight, or areas that frequently experience cloudy weather, may have difficulty utilizing solar power effectively.
- Every hour, the sun beats down with enough power to provide global energy for an entire year.
- It take an average of eight minutes for energy to travel from the sun to the Earth.
- Scientists have used solar energy to power spaceships since 1958.
- Most solar panels used today have an average life expectancy of between 20-40 years.