Solar Energy

Topics: Solar cell, Solar energy, Nuclear power Pages: 9 (2867 words) Published: March 31, 2006
Our world has been in existence for billions of years and throughout all those years we have used the sun for basic energy needs. So why not be able to harness that energy and use it to power things like our homes or our cars? Many scientist have been developing alternate forms of energy called "Green Energy." Green power is the solution to creating a cleaner, sustainable energy system. Renewable energy--power from the sun, wind, plants, and moving water--is a natural way to meet our energy needs and protect the environment. Here are some forms of green energy:

• Wind energy converts the power available in moving air into electricity. Wind power does not produce air emissions, generate solid waste, or use water.

• Biomass is energy from trees and plants. This includes crops that are grown specifically for energy production and organic wastes, such as wood residues from paper mills and methane from landfills. Using biomass to generate electricity reduces global warming emissions if new plants are grown to replace those that are harvested.

• Geothermal energy uses heat from inside the earth to make clean power.

• Solar power captures the heat and light of the sun to generate electricity. Solar energy does not produce air emissions, generate solid waste, or use water.

• Hydroelectric power captures the energy in falling water. It does not produce emissions or solid waste, but can have a relatively low or high impact on the environment, depending on the site-specific factors such as maintenance of water flow and water quality, fish impacts, and other land use issues.

For the most part the cost has been a limiting factor. Whether it be the cost of the technology, or just the cost of replacing our fossil fuels and nuclear power plants it will be expensive none the less. There are many downfalls to nuclear and fossil fuel energy that solar energy can replace:

• about two-thirds of the annual US emissions of sulfur dioxide, the main cause of acid rain and of very small soot particles. These fine particles are believed to be responsible for the largest share of the 50,000-100,000 deaths caused by air pollution in the United States each year.

• about 30 percent of the nitrogen oxides, which combine with organic compounds in sunlight to form smog, and which stress forest ecosystems. High smog levels can trigger heart and respiratory problems and contribute to air pollution deaths.

• about one-third of the carbon dioxide, the leading heat-trapping gas that causes global warming, which may lead to increased droughts, flooding, disease, ecosystem disruption, and severe weather.

• toxic metal emissions (such as mercury and lead) and nuclear waste.

My project will be on the uses and possibilities of solar power in today's society and how it will function. I will explain how solar energy can be used to power our homes and all the benefits and downfalls of using solar power. With this change in our energy system we can make the world a cleaner and more efficient place to live. Welcome to the world of Solar Energy.


Although practical solar cells have only been available since the mid 1950s, scientific investigation of the photovoltaic effect started in 1839, when the French scientist, Henri Becquerel discovered that an electric current could be produced by shining a light onto certain chemical solutions.

The effect was first observed in a solid material (in this case the metal selenium) in 1877. This material was used for many years for light meters, which only required very small amounts of power. A deeper understanding of the scientific principles, provided by Einstein in 1905 and Schottky in 1930, was required before efficient solar cells could be made. A silicon solar cell which converted 6% of sunlight falling onto it into electricity was developed by Chapin, Pearson and Fuller in 1954, and this kind of cell was used in specialized applications such as orbiting space satellites from 1958....
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