What Is Solar Energy
Why ask the question,
"What is solar energy?"
Well, when you are looking at the option of using solar power, whether
for a small solar-powered gadget or a large system to power
it helps to understand that question as well as "how is solar energy
With some basic information, it is easier to understand the limitations
of use as well as the
of this unlimited source
of energy and power.
is Solar Energy - Production of Energy by the Sun
The definition of solar energy
according to the American Heritage
Science Dictionary is:
energy is energy produced by the sun as a result of nuclear fusion.
- The radiant energy emitted by the Sun.
- Energy derived from the Sun's radiation.
It is radiant energy
or energy that comes in the form of
electromagnetic waves. In this form, energy can cross the hundreds of
of miles of space from the sun to our planet without losing its energy.
Since the sun is round
the energy is radiated out in all directions
and only a very tiny part of the sun’s total energy ever hits the
Solar energy also travels
a great distance
across space at the speed of
light and only reaches earth after 8-1/2 minutes.
is Solar Energy - Three Basic Parts
energy coming from the sun can be divided into three basic parts as
it affects the earth.
Here they are stated in a somewhat simplified manner that is easy to
- Visible light
- Electromagnetic waves that we can see
- Thermal energy
- Longer waves that are sensed as heat
solar energy - Shorter waves that cause skin damage, for
is Solar Energy - Solar Energy and the Earth
As you can see from the
chart below, about a third of the sun's
energy is reflected back out into space.
So about two-thirds of
the sun's energy
that hits the earth is absorbed
by the earth's surface, the clouds, and bodies of water.
Although, as we have seen, only a tiny portion of the sun's total
energy reaches the earth, that small part is really an amazingly-huge
For example, if we could
capture and use the sun's energy that reaches
the earth in just one hour, we could supply the whole world's demand of
for one full year.
Needless to say, that is just not possible at this point in time.
Solar Energy - Potential for Renewable Energy Alternative
energy in its natural form only reaches portions of the earth
during daylight hours;
however, the heat stored by water
and the earth-s
surface continues to be released during the dark hours.
The fact that solar
energy can be stored and used when needed is what makes it such a
potential source of usable energy.
Solar Energy Efficiency
Solar Energy Home Page from What Is Solar Energy