"There is an old joke that says Brazil is the country of the future – and always will be. But with rapid economic growth, the government claiming that some 40 million people have been lifted out of poverty in the past decade and the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro on the horizon, it seems the joke is about to fall flat. Brazil's time has arrived and the country of sun, sea...
1. How does solar power work?Submitted by MikeChalberg on Wed, 2012-06-06 13:15
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The sun provides us with enough energy to satisfy the entire world's needs. In fact, the amount of energy the sun provides earth over a period of 20 days is the same amount of energy currently stored in Earth's reserves of coal, oil and natural gas combined. Moreover, it's endless, emits no waste, creates no environmental destruction, and is free. Unfortunately, the process of harvesting this amazing source of energy is difficult and expensive.
Solar energy is captured using solar panels. Normally, the sun's rays create heat when they come into contact with an object. Solar panels, however, turn the sun's power into electricity rather than heat. This is because the panels are coated with silicon. The electrons in most elements simply vibrate in place when they are struck by solar rays, creating heat. But the electrons in silicon actually move from their resting place, enabling the creation of electricity instead of heat. Below is a rudimentary diagram showing the basics of the process.
Due to the high cost of silicon, scientists have begun to create new types of solar panels which contain additional elements. They are working on making the process more efficient and the panels are now able to yield a greater amount of power. Many are also attempting to mimic the process of photosynthesis used by plants to capture sunlight. The plant's technique is far more effective than any solar panel yet produced. Some even speculate that creating solar panels which act as plants could help eliminate excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, alleviating some fears over climate change.