Alternative Energy Sources Advantages and Disadvantages

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Solar Energy


 
Solar Energy, radiation produced by nuclear fusion reactions deep in the Sunís core. Solar energy travels to Earth through space in discrete packets of energy called photons19. A Photon is defined as a packet or quantum of a wave-like fluctuations in electric and magnetic fields traveling through free space or a material medium17.

   The simplest example of solar energy use is your calculator. As long as there is light in the room, the calculator will always work by converting light into useful energy. The solar cells on a calculator are called photovoltaic cells and are made of semiconductors, like silicon19.

   On the side of Earth facing the Sun, a square kilometer at the outer edge of our atmosphere receives 1,400 megawatts of solar power every minute. Only half of that amount reaches Earthís surface. The amount of light that reaches any point on the ground depends on the time of day. The total radiation power varies only slightly, about 0.2 percent every 30 years. Any considerable change would alter or end life on Earth19.

   Greenhouses and solariums are common examples of the direct use of solar energy, having glass surfaces that allow the passage of visible light from the sun but slow down the escape of heat and infrared energy3.

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