Many children's songs have always reflected the importance of the Sun for living beings, so from a young age we can get an idea. The Sun is the largest star in the Solar System, the one that provides us with light and heat and the one that has made life on Earth possible for millions of years. In the Sun a series of chemical transformations take place, in which hydrogen is transformed into helium and in which huge amounts of energy are released and released into space. That energy reaches the Earth and is what we know as solar energy. To know more about what is solar energy for Keep reading on Green Ecologist because we show you the answer.
Solar energy is that which comes from the sun's rays. This star emits a electromagnetic radiation that reaches Earth in the form of light and heat. Every year our planet receives 180 billion kilowatts of power from the Sun, although some of it is returned to space by the reflection produced by the atmosphere. This means that on a sunny day the earth's surface can reach 1 kilowatt per square meter.
The sun has been shining on us 4,543,000,000 years and the scientific community believes that it will still do so for five hundred thousand more. Due to its inexhaustible character, it is currently one of the renewable energy resources or the most important inexhaustible natural resources in the world. Solar energy is a sustainable alternative energy source and that it has a lower environmental impact; it does not generate waste or emit toxic gases. However, it has the disadvantage that sunlight is intermittent and does not reach all areas of the planet equally.
For example, Spain, due to its geolocation and climate, has one of the highest rates of solar radiation in Europe, a figure similar to that of Latin American countries. It is estimated that per square meter receives an amount of 1,500 kilowatts per hour during the year. Unfortunately, we are not among the countries that most base their energy production on solar energy. We are overtaken by countries like China, and in Europe, Germany leads in solar energy production.
Solar energy has numerous applications, both in the natural world interacting with all living beings, and in the human economy. The sun provides all living beings with light, energy and heat, but humans get more out of our lifestyle. With this energy we get electricity, heat, transport and much more. Next, we describe the most important uses of solar energy.
As we have said before, solar energy is used by all living beings and these are the main uses that are given in nature to this energy source:
Thanks to solar energy, plants, algae and cyanobacteria can carry out photosynthesis. Photosynthesis, as we already know, is the process by which these living beings obtain the organic matter and energy they need to live. Solar energy is captured by chlorophyll, a very light-sensitive pigment found in plant cells, specifically in organelles called chloroplasts. In addition, for photosynthesis to occur, water and carbon dioxide are needed. Sunlight causes photolysis, that is, the breakdown of water molecules separating into hydrogen and oxygen. Oxygen is released into the atmosphere and hydrogen is used in other reactions that allow the body to obtain organic matter and energy. The importance of photosynthesis lies in the fact that it provides us with the oxygen we need to live, reduces the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (reducing the greenhouse effect) and above all transforms solar energy into energy available for the rest of living beings. .
We recommend you learn more by reading this other post about Photosynthesis: what it is, process and importance.
We have always heard that "put yourself in the sun for a little while to get vitamin D". Although the Sun does not directly provide us with vitamin D, it is true that ultraviolet rays activate the enzymatic machinery of our skin cells to make it. Vitamin D allows the body to fix the calcium that is so important for our bones, for the movement of muscles, the transmission of the nerve impulse and helps the immune system to fight against pathogenic organisms. Thanks to the Sun and its energy, you can help prevent diseases such as osteoporosis, rickets, fibriomalgia and depression, among others. Therefore, the Sun provides us with another very important service, that of health.
For the animals' metabolism to be adequate, a certain temperature is needed. At a physiological level, animals can be classified as endotherms or ectotherms depending on whether or not they are capable of regulating their own body temperature. The body temperature of endotherms or formerly called warm-blooded animals, such as birds and mammals, depends on the chemical reactions that occur in your body. However, the temperature of ectotherms or formerly called cold-blooded animals; reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates, it depends on the environment in which they live. Solar energy is very important for them, since it depends on it to activate their metabolism and they can move, hunt, flee from predators and seek refuge. They can obtain it directly from sunlight or by contact with surfaces previously heated by the Sun.
Apart from the basics that it provides to all living things, solar energy serves us for the following in our daily lives:
Solar energy is converted into electricity thanks to photovoltaic panels. The photovoltaic panels are composed of cells or photovoltaic cells. These cells are built with semiconductor materials, that is, materials capable of behaving as conductors of electricity or as insulators. The most widely used semiconductors are silicon and gallium arsenide and they combine with other elements such as phosphorus or boron to generate a difference in negative and positive charges and thus create electricity. Electricity is defined as the movement of electrons from the negative to the positive pole. When the photons of the solar rays excite the electrons, they begin to move towards the positive charges and it is at that moment when the electric current is produced.
You may be interested in learning more about What is electrical energy and examples by reading this other article.
Solar energy is also used to produce the heat we need in our homes, for example for heating or to heat food. For this, thermal solar panels are used. They consist of parabolic mirrors that concentrate the sun's rays and direct them towards a specific point, usually a tank with water. The water is heated and flows into our houses where it can be used in the shower, for cooking and even for heating.
This technology can also be used to generate cold air such as the one that comes out through air conditioners, this ecological alternative is known as “solar cold”. The same process is followed as before except that a heat absorber, lithium bromide, is added, which allows the air to become cold.
Thanks to solar energy we can achieve more sustainable and ecological means of transport. Although electric vehicles already exist, a further step could be taken if the electricity they consume came from clean and renewable energies. Installing photovoltaic solar panels would achieve the necessary electrical energy so that cars, trams and even airplanes could move.
Solar energy technology is also used for irrigation systems in gardens, farms and crops. There are solar water pumps that allow the extraction and transport of water masses thanks to the electricity that is produced by the photovoltaic solar panels that they have connected. Also, some of these pumps contain batteries that store energy to keep running when sunlight is not available.
Finally, here you can watch an educational video about solar energy.
If you want to read more articles similar to What is solar energy for, we recommend that you enter our category of Renewable Energies.