Solar Power

Word Count: 295About 47 per cent of the energy that
the sun releases to the earth actually reaches the
ground. About a third is reflected directly back
into space by the atmosphere. The time in which
solar energy is available, is also the time we least
need it least – daytime. Because the sun’s energy
cannot be stored for use another time, we need to
convert the suns energy into an energy that can be
stored. One possible method of storing solar
energy is by heating water that can be insulated.

The water is heated by passing it through hollow
panels. Black-coated steal plates are used
because dark colours absorb heat more efficiently.

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However this method only supplies enough energy
for activities such as washing and bathing. The
solar panels generate “low grade” heat, that is,
they generate low temperatures for the amount of
heat needed in a day. In order to generate “high
grade” heat, intense enough to convert water into
high-pressure steam which can then be used to
turn electric generators there must be another
method. The concentrated beams of sunlight are
collected in a device called a solar furnace, which
acts on the same principles as a large magnifying
glass. The solar furnace takes the sunlight from a
large area and by the use of lenses and mirrors can
focus the light into a very small area. Very
elaborate solar furnaces have machines that angle
the mirrors and lenses to the sun all day. This
system can provide sizeable amounts of electricity
and create extremely high temperatures of over
6000 degrees Fahrenheit. Solar energy generators
are very clean, little waste is emitted from the
generators into the environment. The use of coal,
oil and gasoline is a constant drain, economically
and environmentally. Will solar energy be the
wave of the future? Could the worlds requirement
of energy be fulfilled by the “powerhouse” of our
galaxy – the sun? Automobiles in the future will
probably run on solar energy, and houses will have
solar heaters.