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Solar Power By: John Esposito, Glynn Burgess, Noah Won, and Caroline Petronis
What is Solar Energy? • Solar energy utilizes the power of the Sun to create electricity.
Solar Energy Outside of the United States • In Germany, federal rules have been put in place, making the cost of solar energy and installing solar panels much cheaper. It takes as little as 8 days to license and install a solar system on a house in Germany. More than one million Germans have installed solar systems into their homes. • Solar power is now making a noticeable impact in the lives of many Indian rural masses. However, solar power is used just as frequently in urban areas in India. The Indian RE program was one of the first organizations to form itself globally and become recognized as a solar energy corporation. • In Qingdao, China, people are now using solar panels to power homes and other buildings. China is using solar power as an advantage in powering its communities and using it as a resource of clean renewable energy.
Current Technological Research on Solar Energy • The main way to harness the Sun’s energy is through solar panels. • The solar panels that are the most efficient are the solar panels that utilize technology called concentrated photovoltaics, or CPV. • This technology uses mirrors and lenses to concentrate sunlight. • The technology of concentrated photovoltiacs is 33.9 % efficient, which means that almost 34% of the Sun’s energy that is absorbed by the panel is converted into electricity.
How is Solar Energy Used? • Solar energy is usually obtained in the usage of solar panels (aka photovoltaic panels, meaning the panels relate to an electrical effect due to the interaction of light with matter). • The solar energy is produced when sunlight hits the panel and collects the sun’s energy. Then that collected energy moves to the structure the solar panels are set up on. • If the structure has the energy it needs and still has energy, surplus is created. Surplus is the extra energy that is produced by the solar panel. The surplus the structure produces then goes back to the electric company, meaning you get paid for the surplus produced.
Impact of Solar Energy on Public Lands • Solar energy is currently being harvested for energy on nearly 20 million acres of public lands. • Solar energy uses solar panels, which themselves do not harm the ground or ecosystem around them. • A problem, however, occurs when it is time for these photovoltaic cells to be disposed of. When these cells wear out or break, they need to be recycled properly to keep the waste from polluting the environment.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Energy • Advantages: • Clean, unlimited source of energy. Solar energy does not effect environment in a negative way. • Enough heat energy from the sun reaches the earth every day to supply the U.S for 1 and a half years. • Compared to costs, solar energy is very efficient and pays in the long run. • Disadvantages: • Solar energy is difficult to harness effectively. We can not harness the energy of the Sun completely. • Costs of solar panels have high upfront costs. However, solar energy pays in the long run.
Numerical Data Supporting Solar Energy • As you can see from the table above to the left, solar energy is most effective during the spring and summer months. The only month in which no surplus was produced was December of 2011 (surplus is extra energy), meaning the owner of the building or energy company had no benefit. • Using the table to the right, installing solar panels is the 2nd and 3rd most expensive energy source. Considering the facts, solar energy produces surplus in all months except for December, it overshadows the fact that it is the 2nd and 3rd most expensive energy source.
Graphical Data Supporting Solar Energy • As you can see from both the graphs above, solar energy production has been increasing drastically since 2011. This is due to more solar panels being installed, thus increasing the solar energy production. Using the knowledge that solar energy is most effective during the spring and summer months from the previous slide, the increased installation could possibly double or triple the production of energy.
Solar Energy in Comparison to Fossil Fuels • 78% of our electrical energy needs are produced from fossil fuels and nuclear energy. • Coal mining remains dangerous and even though it produces energy it continues to kill miners every year. • Natural Gas and Oil production carry their own environmental impacts. This would include the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. • Nuclear energy results in 25 times more carbon emissions over the energy that solar energy produces. • When all the things that it produces are taken into account the carbon emissions are horrifying. The expenses of such emissions add up to almost 120 billion U.S dollars. • New solutions must be identified because the rise of green house gasses due to nuclear and fossil fuels are contributing to increases in atmospheric pollution. • In conclusion, solar energy is renewable and produces less waste products than fossil fuels.
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