Solar power

  • Posted by larry stanley
  • April 8, 2017 6:13:52 AM PDT
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Solar power (also knows as solar radiation or insolation) is energy from the sun.

This energy, in the form of heat and light, supports all life on Earth, drives the Earth's climate and weather and is predominately responsible for the class of resources collectively known as renewable energy.

Solar energy also broadly describes technologies that utilize sunlight.

The applications are diverse and date back millennia.

The Greeks, Native Americans and Chinese warmed their buildings by orienting them toward the sun.

In Europe, farmers used elaborate field orientation and thermal mass to increase crop yields during the Little Ice Age.

Modern solar technologies continue to harness the sun to provide water heating, daylighting and even flight.

Solar power generally describes technologies that convert sunlight into electricity and in some cases thermal or mechanical power.

In 1866, the French engineer Auguste Mouchout successfully powered a steam engine with sunlight.

This is the first known example of a solar powered mechanical device.

Over the next 50 years inventors such as John Ericsson, Charles Tellier and Frank Shuman developed solar powered devices for irrigation, refrigeration and locomotion.

The progeny of these early developments are concentrating solar power plants.

The modern age of solar power arrived in 1954 when researchers at Bell Laboratories developed a photovoltaic cell capable of effectively converting light into electricity.

This breakthrough marked a fundamental change in how power is generated.

Since then solar cells efficiencies have improved from 6% to 15% with experimental cells reaching efficiencies over 40%.

Prices on the other hand have fallen from $300 per watt to less than $3 per watt.

The utilization of solar energy and solar power spans from traditional technologies that provide food, heat and light to electricity which is uniquely modern.

The diversity of form and long history of solar energy are manifest in a wide variety of applications.

Many technologies use solar energy.

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