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Solar Power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity. It can be done directly using photovoltaics or using concentrated solar using mirrors or other lenses to focus and concentrate a large area of sunlight to a small beam or point. With in increasing cost of energy and alternative energies, solar power is becoming more economically feasible and important.
Our sun is one of the major sources of energy we have access to. The sun at its core converts hydrogen to helium through a thermonuclear fusion reaction. The energy from the reaction travels from the core of the sun to the surface and is primarily released as light. The energy the earth receives comes in two forms, heat and light. According to the US Department of Energy every hour enough energy reaches the earth to meet our energy demands for the whole year. The amount of sun that reaches the earth annually is 4x1018 Joules. The amount of energy consumed by world population is about 3X1015 Joules.
Passive solar building designs have been used for thousands of years so that the walls and floor absorb heat during the day and releas it at night. If you have ever stood in the sun to warm your body up, then you too have harvested energy from the sun for warmth. In fact, the history of the solar energy dates back to 7th century B.C. and multiple events in ancient times have shaped the future discovery of the solar power system, as we know it today.. In 1839 a french physicist, Edmond Becquerel, first showed photovoltaic activity. He discovered that electrical current could be increased in certain materials when exposed to light. Albert Einstein built up this finding 66 years later to what we know know as the photoelectric effect. Electrons are emitted from matter due to their absorption of energy from electromagnetic radiation, specifically very short wavelengths such as ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
Achieving economies of scale
There is a need to increase demand for photovoltaics such that they can compete with conventional electricity production methods. One innovative idea is to harness the green purchasing power of academic institutions. This has been shown to be potentially quite influential in catalyzing a positive spiral-effect in renewables globally. open access
- Superior Solar - History of solar energy, “Solar Energy Timeline - Infographic”.
- Joshua M. Pearce, “Catalyzing Mass Production of Solar Photovoltaic Cells Using University Driven Green Purchasing”, International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 7(4), pp. 425 – 436, 2006.