How is solar energy produced

How is solar energy produced

Solar energy typically is characterized in four primary forms: light, heat, wind and hydro power.

Light energy

Light is generated by the sun as a result of the fusion reaction at its core. By forcibly compacting hydrogen atoms into helium the resulting energy from the fusion process creates various energy waves that radiate outward. These come in various forms, both in frequencies that are detectable by the naked eye as well as less visible frequencies such as radio, x-ray and infrared light. This energy is then utilized by plant and animal life to drive chemical reactions within closed systems and can be harnessed and converted by humans directly using photovoltic cells (commonly referred to as “solar cells”) that can convert the light energy generated by the sun to be used in commercial applications.

Heat Energy

Much like light energy, heat energy is generated by the fusion reaction at the core of the sun. This reaction begins at roughly 15 million degrees Centigrade, or 19 million degrees Fahrenheit, and radiates outward towards the surface before it is released into space. This heat then travels through space to bombard any celestial bodies orbiting the sun such as planets and asteroids that absorb the energy and, in cases such as the Earth, utilize the heat for their own purposes. Typically this energy is used as the driving force in many other reactions that take place in driving atmospheric conditions that affect the planet such as the generation of wind and waves and helps sustain life at a constant temperate level.

Wind energy

By unevenly heating the atmosphere encircling the planet air is heated to various degrees and circulates throughout the planet. As hotter air and colder air rise and fall respectively the shifts in air currents result in the generation of wind that can be felt at varying degrees depending on the current conditions affecting certain areas. Colder air falling and displacing hotter air generates what is known as kinetic energy that can then be harnessed through the use of wind turbines for power generation purposes. This kinetic energy is typically strongest at least 15 meters above sea level as win currents generally dissipate more as they reach closer to the Earth’s surface where air is commonly re-heated by energy that is radiated from the ground.

Hydro energy

Hydro power in the form of wave energy is generated by water on the earth’s surface being moved and directed by fluctuating air currents that cause waves to generate in any substantial body of water, most notably oceans and lakes that allow for strong wind currents to easily direct their water movement. This movement is also facilitated by the heating and cooling of water also driven by the sun’s heat energy, creating strong internal water flows and hot and cold water mixes and is directed throughout seas. In order to property utilize this turbines are typically placed in areas of particularly strong currents that utilize water flows to turn the turbine and generate usable power.


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