Every second, the Earth receives 170 billion watts from solar flares.
The sun generates a tremendous amount of energy. Thanks to her, vital processes occur on Earth, like the water cycle. More than 170 billion watts of solar energy "crashes" into the earth's atmosphere every second.
To compare these incredible proportions, imagine that the average smartphone consumes about two thousand watts per year. The sun is sending a billion times more energy into the atmosphere every second!
Not all of the solar energy that reaches the atmosphere reaches the Earth's surface. The atmosphere absorbs and reflects some of the energy back into space, while clouds also reflect and absorb energy.
In fact, only 50% of the solar energy passes through the atmosphere and reaches the Earth's surface. And this is very good, because if the surface of the Earth reached 100 percent of the solar energy, then our life would be radically different from the present.
2. When we eat fruits and vegetables, we get calories from the Sun
Plants can also tell us some pretty interesting facts about solar energy. For example, we use them without even knowing that plants are another source of solar energy. It turns out that solar energy plays a very important role in the process of photosynthesis, generating the oxygen we need.
The chemical reaction of photosynthesis converts air, water, and other nutrients so that plants, flowers, and tree leaves can grow. When we eat fruits and vegetables, we are consuming calories that were created by the energy of the sun. So when we eat vegetables, we actually get energy from the sun. This is one of the amazing solar energy facts that tells us that we are using solar energy even when we are not aware of it.
People eat meat from animals, which in turn eat food made from plants. The energy that we get by eating meat comes from the energy that "accumulates" in animals from plants. This is another amazing fact about solar energy - even when we eat meat, we get energy from the sun.
3. Vitamin D is created in our body through solar energy
Humans, like plants, also use solar energy as vitamins.
But unlike plants, we are not so dependent on this energy. However, our body needs solar energy to carry out various chemical processes. For example, to produce vitamin D in the body.
Human skin contains a certain type of cholesterol that converts a pre-type vitamin into vitamin D, which protects the skin from ultraviolet radiation. Previously, the "vitamin preparation", with ultraviolet radiation from the Sun, enters the liver, which ultimately produces vitamin D, which is so necessary for the body.
4. The first solar power plant was built in 1912
Solar energy participates in the water cycle in nature. The sun heats the water on Earth, and this causes evaporation, which converts into precipitation in the form of rain or snow.
When water and other liquids are heated by solar energy, they undergo changes and turn into gas. For water, this gas is vapor. As early as 1897, Frank Schumann created a system that uses the energy of the sun to propel a small motor. His later systems improved and used water to power a full-size steam engine.
In 1912 Schumann patented his system and built the first solar power plant in Egypt. This is one of the most important facts in the history of solar energy use. The Schumann power plant was capable of generating 45-52 kilowatts, and was the first large-scale commercial use of solar energy. This is a small scale by today's standards, but it gave rise to the widespread use of solar energy. This fact inspired future inventors to move on.
Solar thermal energy is a type of technology that is capable of heating water and then using its changes to power a machine. Schumann turned out to be a visionary who showed everyone that solar energy can be used when the reserves of coal and oil are depleted on Earth.
5. A cool drink on a hot day is passive solar technology
There are two main types of technologies used to capture and harness solar energy: active and passive.
Active solar technologies such as solar panels collect solar energy and convert it into electrical energy. Active solar technology supplies energy for its use.
Passive solar technology aims to reduce the use of energy from other sources. It can be something simple. For example, the roof of a house with a special reflective coating is necessary to reduce the amount of incoming energy. This is necessary to cool the house in the summer. Passive solar technologies work by reducing the amount of energy. Even a cool drink on a hot day is a type of passive solar technology.
6. Solar panels use photons to create excitons and electron fields
When people think of solar energy, they often imagine solar panels. These panels contain "solar cells", also known as photovoltaic cells, which cause the photovoltaic effect.
Photovoltaic effect is the tendency of certain materials to be excited by photons in solar energy. Different materials have different properties when excited by the energy of the sun.
Also, special materials are used to make solar cells generate excitons in an excited state. The presence of the latter causes a flow of electrons. Later, with the help of a solar battery, this flow is converted into electricity, which we consume.
The first solar panels could not convert solar energy into electricity. They were only 1-2% efficient, while modern batteries in laboratories are 40% more efficient.
7. Solar energy can purify water using UV radiation
Another amazing fact about solar energy is that it can be used to purify water. This property of solar energy was already known to the ancient Greeks, and was also practiced by Persian alchemists in the 1500s.
The process of purifying salt water using solar energy is called solar desalination. There is another way that uses solar energy to purify water called solar distillation. Solar distillation removes many types of contaminants from water. An example is the standard cycle of the water cycle in nature.
As a miniature example, you can take a cardboard box and place it over a hole previously dug in wet soil. The water that, when evaporated, ends up on the surface of the box, will be clean and drinkable.
Another option for water purification is ultraviolet radiation. It is harmful to many microbes and bacteria.
8. Solar energy is the only source of renewable energy
Solar energy is life-giving for everything that surrounds us. If people switch to solar powered sources, the use of the electrical grid will be significantly reduced. The fact is that the power grid is powered by burning coal. And this process contributes to climate change, which leads to global warming.
Solar energy is one of the best sources of renewable energy. Some argue that it is the only source of its kind. Much of the infrastructure in the developed world is built on fossil fuels. Therefore, the transition to the use of solar energy as the main source of energy will require significant efforts.
The economic benefits of using solar energy are clear. Fuel prices are increasing and the cost of making more efficient solar panels is decreasing.
9. Gravitational energy from the Sun is holding the solar system
Perhaps the most mysterious of the solar energy facts relates to the gravity that the sun emits. Thanks to gravity, all planets and other objects maintain their orbits in the solar system.
Gravitational energy is one of the least studied forces in the universe. While the Sun emits light and solar energy to the Earth, it also pulls the Earth towards itself with its gravitational field.
If you think about it, it turns out that solar energy is responsible for more than just the water cycles that fuel life on Earth. Solar energy created the conditions for life on Earth when the solar system was just formed.
Solar energy is becoming more and more important in the life of mankind. Scientists see it as renewable energy sources that do not harm the environment, as well as great benefits for human health.