To fully comprehend the full potential and various sectors of application for this abundant energy supply, it is essential that all people learn a few basic facts about solar energy. Without a doubt, solar power is the greenest and most sought-after alternative energy option. At the moment, annual global energy consumption is somewhere around 550 exajoules (523 Quadrillion BTUs). About 3,850,000 exajoules of energy per year are absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere, oceans, and land masses from the sun. Once this is taken into account, it should become clear why the solar energy industry is so eager to develop better methods of capturing solar energy. The Desertec foundation suggests that installing solar PV panels in as little as one percent of the world's deserts could provide enough energy to run the entire planet.
Below is a brief summary of some of the more notable historical facts related to solar energy:
Solar energy has been used by numerous ancient civilizations.
One of the first modern thinkers, Leonardo da Vinci envisioned the industrial use of solar energy to heat water.
In 1839, while experimenting with electrolytic cells, the French scientist Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect.
As early as 1894, inventor Clarence Kemp secured a patent for his groundbreaking solar water heating system.
Frank Shuman constructed the first solar thermal power station in 1913.
The Egyptian station heated water in boilers using parabolic trough-shaped mirrors, which powered a 65-horsepower engine. Nearly 6,000 gallons per minute of Nile River water were pumped by the engine to nearby farms.
In 1954, researchers at Bell Labs created the first practical photovoltaic (PV) solar cell.
Technical details on solar power are listed below.
Both active and passive systems exist for collecting solar energy. For example, photovoltaic cells are used in active solar power devices, while thermal energy is used in passive solar power devices.
Currently, solar photovoltaic systems are the most widely used energy transformation devices due to their ability to convert sunlight into electricity via modules comprised of solar cells.
Due to their high specific heat energy properties, molten salts are occasionally used in thermally based solar power systems to store solar energy at very high temperature.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that by 2060, solar power technologies such as photovoltaic panels, solar water heaters, and solar electrical power stations would generate roughly 33% of the world's electricity consumption.
The Nokia 1610 plus, released by the Finnish company in 1997, was the world's first commercial solar-powered mobile phone.
Important solar installations located in various parts of the world are as follows:
The Mojave Desert in California is home to nine separate solar power plants known together as Solar Energy Generating Systems (SEGS). With a combined output of about 354 megawatts, SEGS continues to hold the title of the world's largest solar power facility.
The cost per watt of electricity generated by photovoltaic cells has dropped to the point where large solar power facilities typically employ them to generate electricity. Sarnia, Canada is home to the largest photovoltaic power facility on the planet, with a 97 MW output.
In terms of electrical power output, the Andasol plant in Spain is the second largest solar electrical power plant in the world, with 250 megawatts.
In Rajasthan, India, they have the largest Scheffler reflector system in the world, and it can produce enough heat to prepare 35,000 meals every day.
Germany is home to the largest thin-film photovoltaic power facility, the Waldpolenz Solar Park.
When finished, the 550-megawatt solar photovoltaic power complex known as Topaz Solar Farm will be among the largest in the world.
Information on solar energy and solar-powered aircraft:
In 1975, scientists at NASA created the first unmanned, solar-powered aircraft called the Astro Flight - Sunrise.
The first plane that could transport a person and run solely on energy from the sun was the Gossamer Penguin, which was built in 1980.
The autonomous air vehicle Helios, powered in part by solar photovoltaic panels, currently holds the record for the highest height achieved by a winged aircraft, at 96,863 feet, and the record for the longest period of uninterrupted horizontal flight.
The United States' Vanguard 1 spacecraft, launched in 1958, was the first satellite to rely solely on solar energy. Miraculously, the spacecraft is still in orbit and in 2008 it even celebrated its 50th birthday.
First spaceship to successfully demonstrate solar-sail technology, IKAROS (Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation Of the Sun). The H-IIA rocket carried the Japanese spacecraft into orbit in 2010.
There has been a larger push for the development of renewable energy because of the prolonged volatility of oil prices and the fact that the typical person is genuinely more mindful of the natural environment. As a result of increased demand, solar panels and other renewable energy alternatives will become more affordable. Energy giants like BP and General Electric have invested much in advertising to appear environmentally conscious by highlighting their financial commitments in renewable energy. The rising cost of traditional energy sources like natural gas, coal, and oil has made "green" energy sources like solar power, an economically viable option for many people and has attracted the attention of energy giants like BP, Shell, and others. In the past 15 years, interest in solar power has surged at a rate of 30 percent per year. Over 7.3GW of photovoltaic solar panels were installed around the world in 2009, a 20% increase from 2008. The photovoltaic solar business also saw increased profits in 2009, totaling $38.5 billion.
One can't deny the allure of solar energy. It's an extremely abundant supply of power. There are no emissions of greenhouse gases, which are widely thought to contribute to global warming. This is especially helpful in industrialized nations where there is a high demand for electricity due to the widespread use of air conditioners. Solar energy systems, once installed, may last for 30 years or more with only routine maintenance or management. However, solar has its drawbacks, most notably the inefficiency of photovoltaic solar modules, which is further decreased by the requirement to convert DC current from solar power cells to AC current. Furthermore, solar power is dependent on the weather and the time of day, necessitating backup solutions such as batteries for use when power output is low. The positive aspects of solar energy much outweigh the negative ones. These encouraging data help to demonstrate this crucial shift toward solar power as the major energy source, which will ensure a thriving and healthy planet for future generations.