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Solar energy is the byproduct of nuclear reactions happening at the heart of our sun. This energy is sent to earth in the form of weak gamma radiation. Solar energy is released into space and when it gets to earth we see and feel this energy as light and heat. Heat and light can then be used by plants, animals and humans to create food, warm our homes and create electricity.
Solar energy is the most important energy source we have. All life on earth depends on it and as far as a usable energy source to power our lives, solar energy is capable of providing us with more power than all other energy sources combined and it will never run out.
Solar energy is the ultimate renewable energy.
Solar energy is clean, abundant, and free. In one day the earth receives more solar energy than we collectively use in an entire year.
What is Solar Power?
Solar power is sometimes refereed to as solar energy, however you should think of solar power as power or force created by using or harnessing solar energy. You might be surprised to know that solar power can be seen all around us. Almost all energy we use on a daily basis is somehow related to solar energy. Very few energy sources would exist without the power of the sun.
Solar Energy is Fossil Fuels
Fossil fuels are a result of decaying organic matter from millions of years ago. Almost all life on earth is dependent on the sun and over time living matter dies decays and is compressed to become fuel we know as oil, natural gas and coal. All of these bio fuels are a storage devise for millions and millions of years of solar energy. When we burn this fuel we are releasing the stored energy that was trapped by plants millions of years ago.
Solar Energy is Wind Energy
Wind Energy is created as solar energy comes to us and is absorbed by the earth causing the earth to heat up. When the earth heats up air rises, as air rises cooler air from other areas is pulled towards where air is being heated this is the process by which wind is formed. Without the solar energy to heat up the planet there would be very little wind. So wind energy is also largely another form of solar energy.
Solar Energy is Biomass Energy
Biomass energy is very similar to fossil fuels in the sense that it is a result of stored solar energy in the form of plants and animals. This is however a renewable energy source because plants regrow. They then can be harvested again and again from the same place as plants and trees regrow. Trees can be chopped down and wood burnt to produce energy then a few years later wood can be harvested from the same location this can continue year after year.
Solar Energy is Hydro Power
Hydro power is energy that is harnessed by the movement of water. There are a couple different types of hydro power, the most common one being the ones that use falling water found at water falls or along a river or stream where water rushes along in a river current. You might not think of this as solar energy but it is. Sun heats of water and turns it into water vapor carrying it high into the sky. From here was later falls back earth in the form of rain. Rain falls on higher spots form the beginning rivers and streams. Without the sun this process would not happen. Without the sun there would be no rain, no streams and no hydro power as we described.
There is another type of hydro power that is a little different, this is in the form of ocean waves, although not often thought of a good place to harness energy, new devices are being developed that will harness large amount of energy by bobbing up and down along with ocean waves. Although ocean waves are partly a result of gravitational forces on the Earths oceans this still would not be enough without solar energy producing wind where waves really come from and solar energy keeping the waters warm and liquid. So once again a clean renewable energy source can be traced back to solar energy.
The Best Types of Solar Energy
Solar energy at it’s best is energy that we can reuse over and over again that does not require burning. As I’ve pointed out solar energy can be stored in many forms and although biomass is a plentiful and renewable resource it still produces carbon dioxide and pollutes the environment. The ones we really want to focus on are the ones that produce ample amounts of power but to not have an impact on the environment itself. Things like this include, passive solar heating, solar panels for creating electricity, wind power, hydro power, and solar power dishes. All of these can produce usable energy to us without polluting the air with carbon dioxide. This would be a carbon neutral energy source, and with new technologies we can even start to pull carbon back out of the air and in the long run we could start reducing current levels of carbon dioxide.