What is solar energy and why go with solar power?

Just 9% of Mojave Desert, a patch of 100 square miles of open space covered with efficient solar panels, could power all the electricity needs of the US.

We look up every morning to the single thing that provides to most energy to this planet.  Sun.  The sun’s heat and light provide an abundant source of energy that can be harnessed in many ways.  Over our world’s history we have developed technologies to harness solar energy.

These include concentrating solar power systems, passive solar heating and daylighting, photovoltaic systems, solar hot water, and solar process heat and space heating and cooling.

From village to large buildings, we have seen both large-scale applications and smaller ones like the guy or family next door.

Homeowners can also use solar technologies for heating (home and water) and cooling with the possibility to sell that excess electricity created to operate “off-grid” or to sell the extra electricity to their local utility company. We can all through solar improve our energy efficiency, save money and more importantly save our world and environment through solar technologies for generating electricity for any application.

Even using passive solar heat and daylight designing strategies help buildings become more efficient in the way they operate. 

Concentrating that solar power is the trick, so we use collecting systems to create power plants that produce electricity from the sun.  This has always been a great economic opportunity for the United States and our energy production / creation.

Other Solar Energy Basics

  • Sunlight—through photovoltaic technology—provides this building at Oberlin College with electricity.
  • The Earth receives solar radiation every day at the upper atmosphere and according to people much smarter than me..
  • 30% of solar energy is reflected back to space while the rest is absorbed by clouds, oceans and land masses. The spectrum of solar light at the Earth’s surface is mostly spread across the visible and near-infrared ranges with a small part in the near-ultraviolet. 

As the US Department of Energy States:

Earth’s land surface, oceans and atmosphere absorb solar radiation, and this raises their temperature. Warm air containing evaporated water from the oceans rises, causing atmospheric circulation or convection. When the air reaches a high altitude, where the temperature is low, water vapor condenses into clouds, which rain onto the Earth’s surface, completing the water cycle. The latent heat of water condensation amplifies convection, producing atmospheric phenomena such as wind, cyclones and anti-cyclones.

Sunlight absorbed by the oceans and land masses keeps the surface at an average temperature of 14 °C. By photosynthesis green plants convert solar energy into chemical energy, which produces food, wood and the biomass from which fossil fuels are derived.

Or as stated by the International Climate Change Organization sponsored by the United Nations Environment Program:

The Earth’s annual and global mean energy balance. Of the incoming solar radiation, 49% (168 Wm-2) is absorbed by the surface. That heat is returned to the atmosphere as sensible heat, as evapotranspiration (latent heat) and as thermal infrared radiation. Most of this radiation is absorbed by the atmosphere, which in turn emits radiation both up and down. The radiation lost to space comes from cloud tops and atmospheric regions much colder than the surface. This causes a greenhouse effect.

Solar power technologies, from individual home systems to large-scale concentrating solar power systems, have the potential to help meet growing energy needs and provide diversity and reliability in energy supplies.

(A) Green Jobs Says The American Solar Energy Society (ASES)

The American Solar Energy Society (ASES) is the nation’s leading nonprofit association of solar professionals & grassroots advocates. Our mission is to speed the transition to a sustainable energy economy. We advance education, research and policy, inspiring the nation to go solar.  ASES Green Collar Jobs report forecasts 37 million jobs from renewable energy (RE) and energy efficiency (EE) in U.S. by 2030.  


  1. (Source: http://re.jrc.ec.europa.eu/pvgis/countries/europe/EU-Glob_opta_presentation.png,  The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability)
  2. (Source) National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL)
  3. (Source: Natural Forcing of the Climate System, Climate Change 2001 http://www.grida.no/publications/other/ipcc_tar/?src=/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/041.htm)
  4. ( Source: Kiehl and Trenberth, 1997: Earth’s Annual Global Mean Energy Budget, Bull. Am. Met. Soc. 78, 197-208. Taken From the website information attached: http://www.grida.no/publications/other/ipcc_tar/?src=/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/041.htm)
  5. http://www.ases.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=465&Itemid=58
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