Did you know that the average American home uses about 914 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per month? And did you know that, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, about 11% of all the energy consumed in the United States comes from solar power? With solar panels becoming increasingly more common, it’s important to understand where all this solar energy comes from and what happens to it once it reaches Earth. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the sun’s role in producing solar energy and how that energy is used by people and animals here on Earth.
The Sun’s Role in Solar Energy
Did you know that the sun is the biggest source of energy for our planet? It’s true! The sun provides energy in the form of sunlight. This energy can be used to power things like plants, which convert sunlight into food for animals and humans to eat. But what about all of the other solar energy that hits our planet? What happens to most of the incoming solar energy on earth? Let’s take a closer look.
Solar energy is, quite literally, power derived from the sun. The sun is a star that produces an enormous amount of energy through nuclear fusion – a process in which atoms are combined to form larger atoms. This process releases a tremendous amount of heat and light, some of which reaches Earth about 8 minutes after leaving the sun.
The sunlight that does reach our planet is then converted into other forms of energy, like heat and electricity, by solar panels. Solar panels are made up of individual solar cells that use semiconductor materials, like silicone, to convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity. This DC electricity can then be converted into alternating current (AC) electricity, which is the type of electricity used in most homes and businesses.
How Solar Energy Is Used on Earth
People have been harnessing the power of the sun for centuries. For example, early humans used sunlight to start fires for warmth and cooking. Today, people use solar energy for a variety of purposes, including generating electricity, providing hot water, and even powering entire homes and businesses. Solar power is also used in a variety of industries, like agriculture and transportation.
Animals also rely on solar energy to help them survive. Many plants need sunlight to grow, and many animals need plants as part of their diet. Additionally, animals can use solar energy to help regulate their body temperature; for example, snakes often basking in the sun to help them stay warm.
As you can see, solar energy plays a big role in our lives – even if we don’t always realize it! The next time you see a solar panel or feel the warmth of the sun on your skin, remember all the ways that solar energy touches our lives every day.