With an estimate of 384.6 Yotta Watts (3.846×1026) the sun generate a very high amount of energy which has lasted for billions of years and doesn’t seem to stop generating energy anytime soon. I believe that in the future, the Sun will be part of what will be used in powering devices, cars, and a lot more since the world is moving to renewable energy. The truth is that non-renewable energy will eventually run-out one day so we have to start making use of the sun’s energy sooner than later.
Let us do a very fast rewind to what the Sun is. The sun is a combination of gases which includes hydrogen about 70%, helium about 28%, nitrogen carbon and oxygen about 1.5% while other gases such as neon, iron, silicon, magnesium and sulfur, make up the remaining 0.5%. The sun is said to 300,000 times bigger than the earth and has temperature of 27 million degree Fahrenheit (do you know how hot that is, over 60,000 times the temperature of an oven used to bake).
In 1887, Heinrich Hertz first harness the energy of this sun through photoelectric effect. Photoelectric material convert solar rays to a current of electrons. It is true that the Sun has a lot of energy but why isn’t solar energy used to power everything around us? The answer is scientist have been trying to work out how to harness enough energy from a given sunlight as most of the energy shined down to solar panels often lost the energy as reflection or as heat.
In1883, Charles Fritts created the first solar cells from Selenium and gold coating. This cell was only able to convert about 1-2% of the Sun’s energy. This was used rarely because it was expensive. In the 1950s, Scientist discovered that Silicon was a better option compared to Selenium. With Silicon, solar cells were able to convert about 6% of the energy. This was also quite expensive and at such was used for space-crafts only. In the 1970s Exxon started making cheap solar converting cells. In Recent times, checking through your window to a solar panel, the solar cells used are of two types, monocrystalline and polycrystalline both made out of silicon with about 20% solar energy conversion efficiency. Currently, solar energy account for 1% of the world’s electricity generation but is expected to grow up to 65 times in the year 2050.
On a final note, one major problem with using solar energy is the intensity of the sun on regions. Some part of the world get more sun than others, Seattle get lower sunlight compared to Egypt so this means solar panels in Egypt will produce more energy than that in Seattle. Also, change in seasons and the circle of day and night can also affect the energy will get and this can be conquered by improving the storage and transmission of the energy being harnessed. The efficiency and price of solar cells and panels could be another problem. In other to keep our universe safe from pollution, it is good we move to solar energy as it is a renewable energy.