Thursday, January 22, 2015

Solar Energy

by Antonio C. Antonio
January 8, 2015

What is solar energy?  Solar energy comes to earth from the sun as photons (particles of light energy) of electromagnetic waves ranging from short to long wavelengths.  Solar energy is also an important source of renewable energy using a range of ever-evolving technologies that harness radiant light and heat from the sun.  Such technological applications at present are solar heating, solar photovoltaics, solar thermal energy, solar architecture and artificial photosynthesis. 

Solar energy that reaches the earth’s surface is approximately 4% ultra violet, 44% visible light, and 52% infra red and long waves.  The higher and more intense energy wavelengths are screened out by the ozone and oxygen in the atmosphere while most of the infrared radiation is filtered by water and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere before it reached the surface of the earth.  This is just to highlight the important role the ozone layer plays as it is being depleted by chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) which is an organic compound that contains only carbon, chlorine, and fluorine, produced as a volatile derivative of methane, ethane and propane.

Solar energy can be converted into solar power which is a renewable source of energy.  Solar energy comes in either passive solar or active solar depending on the method of capturing, storage and distribution of solar energy.  Active solar techniques include the use of photovoltaic systems, concentrated solar power and solar water heating to harness the energy.  Passive solar techniques include orienting buildings and other man-made infrastructure to the sun, selecting materials with favourable thermal mass or light dispersing properties, and designing spaces that natural cross ventilation and circulation of air.

Here is a wrong notion on solar energy… Although solar energy is a welcomed alternative energy source, climate change is also being attributed to solar energy.  The depletion of the ozone layer through the introduction of CFC in the atmosphere by humans causes more radiation to reach the earth’s surface; which, in turn, should be the reason for global warming and changes in the earth’s climactic conditions.  Climate change is largely anthropogenic or man-made and is never directly caused by solar energy.

Just my little thoughts…

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