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Facts about Solar Power In the UK

Jason Smith

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Solar power is the conversion process of sunlight into electricity, either directly using photovoltaics (PV), or indirectly using concentrated solar power (CSP). Concentrated solar power systems use lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam. Photovoltaics convert light into electric current using the photoelectric effect. There is a lot of information about solar power out there in both books and the internet.

I have collected a few facts to help you make your own mind up about solar power and whether you feel you should be converting to using it. So below is a list of true facts about solar power: • The sun is the source of all solar power and the earth receives about 1,366 watts of direct solar radiation per square meter from the sun. The sun is is 109 times bigger than the Earth and is about 150 million km from the Earth and is aged about 4.5 billion years.

The sun’s average surface temperature is 5700 C. The Earth’s average temperature is 20 C. • Earth receives around 51% of the Sun's solar energy. The rest is either absorbed by clouds and the atmosphere or radiated back into space. • Solar radiation reaches a unit of space near the Earth’s orbit at a rate of 1,366 W/m² (Watt per square metre), as measured upon a surface normal (at a right angle) to the Sun. This number is the “solar constant".

Of this energy, about 19% is absorbed by the atmosphere, and clouds reflect a further 35% of the total solar energy. Therefore solar energy received a sea level is much less. Its peak power is generally accepted to be 1,020 W/m².

• The energy output of a 1 KW solar energy unit is roughly equivalent to the burning of 170 pounds of coal and 300 pounds of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere. • Solar energy is not available at night, making energy storage an important issue in order to provide the continuous availability of energy • The human ecological footprint is massive. In some countries bigger than in others.

There are around 2 billion world citizens without any electricity at all. To them the facts about solar energy are that they cannot flick a switch to bring it on and are often steeped in poverty. • By contrast America accounts for over a quarter of world energy consumption with only 5% of the global population.

• While Japan used to account for some 50% of total solar demand globally, Europe accounted for 82% of world demand in 2008. Spain's 285% growth pushed Germany into second place in the market ranking, while the US advanced to number three. Rapid growth in Korea allowed it to become the fourth largest market, followed by Italy and Japan. • In the UK we receive sufficient sunshine to provide up to 70% of our annual domestic hot water. The average UK household uses the equivalent of 3000kW hours of power per year to heat water. The UK could collect up to 1300 kW hours per square metre of solar panel per year. • Solar energy is better for the environment than traditional forms of energy because it does not create green house gases resulting from the burning of fossil fuels to generate energy • A major solar energy industry report from 2009 indicated that there are four primary barriers to solar adoption: cost, complexity, misinformation, and inertia. • Leonardo Da Vinci first planned the use of industrial solar power by employing concave mirrors to heat water during his years working at the Vatican. Most of Da Vinci's incredible inventions, including a helicopter, tank and calculator, were not built during his lifetime. • A world record was set in 1990 when a an aircraft flew 4060km across the United States of America with solar power and no other fuel. The trip did however require 20 stops along the way and took 121 flying hours. Solar energy certainly seems to be a practical possibility even in the UK. By using a solar power system we could reduce harmful emissions by up to 500 kg per square metre of panel per year. Solar power is free energy waiting to be collected and used all year round. So go get yourself some Solar panels now and start saving money and the planet.

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