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What is solar energy?

Solar energy is the renewable electrical energy that is converted from the Sun’s light and heat through technological means such as solar photovoltaics (PV) cells. Unlike other forms of energy, such as coal, solar energy produces no pollutants and has no negative environmental impact.

How does Solar Power work?

There are different means of producing solar energy. The most common way is through PV cells, which are better known as the building blocks of solar panels, and are located on solar powered calculators, as well as WakaWaka products. PV cells are made up of semiconductor material such as silicon. When sunlight hits the PV cells, part of it gets absorbed into the semiconductor. The energy of the absorbed light loosens the electrons from the semiconductor atom, allowing them to move freely. The electric field(s) of the PV cells then force the electrons to move in a certain direction, creating an electrical current. 



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19 More Facts About Solar Energy

  1. Many spacecraft that operate on the inner solar system, such as Juno and the Mars Observer, rely on solar panels for electricity from the Sun.
  2. After initial construction, there is no maintenance required for solar energy systems.
  3. The Solar City Tower is under construction for the Brazil 2016 Olympic Games. Standing at over 100 meters tall, the structure will function as a solar power generator during the day, providing energy for the Olympic Village and Olympic Venues.
  4. Approximately 75 million barrels of oil and 35 million tons of carbon dioxide are saved annually by solar energy users.
  5. The largest solar power plant in the world is located in the Mojave Desert, covering 1,000 acres of land and having the generating capacity of 354 megawatts.
  6. Solar panels have an expected lifespan of at least 25-30 years.
  7. Solar panels first appeared on the market in 1956.
  8. Solar powered bird bath fountains exist.
  9. Most TV and communication satellites are powered by solar energy through PV cells.
  10. The amount of sunlight that hits the Earth in 1 minute meets the world’s energy demands for an entire year.
  11. Approximately half of the world’s solar panels are produced in Japan.
  12. The demand for solar power is currently higher than supply.
  13. Most solar panels convert 10-15% of the Sun’s energy into electricity, but these figures are increasing as technology is improving.
  14. Solar energy’s current share of world’s energy consumption is approximately less than 1%.
  15. Third world countries currently have the fastest growing market for solar energy.
  16. In Colorado, efforts are being made to make solar powered homes a standard.
  17. Employment in the solar energy industry has increased by 20% from 2013 to 2014.
  18. Although not as effective as direct sunlight, solar cells can convert energy from incandescent lights, meaning that some solar powered handheld devices can convert the energy from indoor lighting into electricity.
  19. Unlike coal, oil, and gas, solar energy has the ability to offset its carbon footprint, meaning that within 4-7 years, solar panels can pay back their energy costs. 

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