Solar Energy Facts

Facts About Solar Power Systems

A solar power system uses a solar panel to collect the sun’s energy and a battery to store that energy. When the sun is shining, the solar panel produces a voltage higher than that of the battery, charging the battery. Solar panels include a blocking diode (allowing electricity to pass in one direction only) ensuring that the battery does not discharge through the panel when the sun is not shining.
Solar energy works by converting the sun’s rays into electricity with the use of solar panels to supply power to the appliances use in our homes.

Solar Panel Functionality:
Rays of sunlight hit the solar panel (also known as a photovoltaic) and are absorbed by semi-conducting materials such as silicone or Indium/Gallium/Arsenide. Electrons are knocked loose from their atoms, which allow them to flow through the material to produce electricity. This process whereby light is converted into electricity is called the photovoltaic effect.

The Sun:
The sun is the source of nearly all energy on the planet; including fossil fuels which the sun created millions of years ago. The sun produces enough energy in one hour (with our current level of conversion technology) to power the entire planet’s electrical system for one year. Keeping in mind, the same solar energy is also constantly warming our planet. At the speed of light (almost 300,000 km/s), it takes light approximately 8 minutes to reach the earth from the sun.

Useful Links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sdo/science/Solar%20Irradiance.html
http://rredc.nrel.gov/solar/old_data/nsrdb/1961-1990/redbook/atlas/