Tag Archives: sunlight

Solar energy

Renewable solar energy

The Sun produces a lot of light every second and it has been doing that for billions of years. Energy from the sun is called solar energy. Renewable solar energy is a resource that is inexhaustible and readily available, unlike fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. It is a clean energy source that can be used pollution free and allows for local energy independence.

People have used this power for thousands of years. Houses have windows so that sunlight can get inside and provide heat and light. The sun’s energy can also be used to heat water and even food. If you own a magnifying glass, your parents have probably warned you about leaving it in the sun. Solar energy can actually make the magnifying glass burn objects underneath it, causing a fire. This type of energy from the sun in the form of heat is called solar thermal energy. We can also turn the sun’s light into electricity. This is done with solar panels. Solar panels are made up of a material called silicon. The silicon is heated and formed into very thin wafers. When the sunlight hits the solar panel, the electrons (tiny particles) in the silicon move and flow through wires built into the panel.

Types of solar energy

Solar power is used a number of different ways, of course. There are two very basic kinds by the type of energy it is converted into:

– Solar thermal energy collects the sun’s warmth through one of two means: in water or in an anti-freeze (glycol) mixture.

– Photovoltaic solar power – converting solar energy into electricity using photovoltaic cells.

History of solar power

The Romans took their knowledge of the sun being a source of energy as they were the first people to use glass windows to trap the warmth of the sun in their homes. They were so serious about the preservation of this solar energy that they erected glass houses to create the right conditions to grow plants and seeds.

While many people were benefiting from solar power it wasn’t until 1776 that the first solar collector was built. This collector was built by a man named Horace de Saussare. His collector was cone shaped and would boil ammonia that would then perform like refrigeration and locomotion. This first solar power collector attracted much interest in the scientific community through the 19th century.