Solar Energy Installers
What is Solar Energy?
The sun has produced energy for billions of years and is the original source of almost all the energy used on the Earth.
Solar Energy is the sun's rays that reach the Earth. Every day the sun radiates, or sends out, an enormous amount of energy. The sun radiates more energy in one second than people have used since the beginning of time.
Where does the energy come from that constantly radiates from the sun? It comes from within the sun itself. Like other stars, the sun is a big ball of gases - mostly hydrogen and helium atoms. The hydrogen atoms in the sun's core combine to form helium and generate energy in a process called nuclear fusion.
Here comes the science bit...
During nuclear fusion, the sun's extremely high pressure and temperature cause hydrogen atoms to come apart and their nuclei (the central core of the atoms) to fuse or combine. Four hydrogen nuclei fuse to become one helium atom, but the helium atom contains less mass than the four hydrogen atoms that fused. Some matter is lost during nuclear fusion and this lost matter is emitted into space as radiant energy.
It takes millions of years for the energy in the sun's core to make its way to the surface, and then just a little over eight minutes to travel the 93 million miles to earth. The solar energy travels to the earth at a speed of 186,000 miles per second, the speed of light.
Only a small part of the energy radiated by the sun into space strikes the earth, one part in two billion. Yet this amount of energy is enormous. Every day enough energy strikes the UK to supply the nation's energy needs for one and a half years.
Where does all this energy go? About 15 percent of the sun's energy that hits the earth is reflected back into space. Another 30 percent is used to evaporate water, which, lifted into the atmosphere, produces rainfall. Solar energy also is absorbed by plants, the land and the oceans. The rest could be used to supply our energy needs.