Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: April 25, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963893 | Print ISBN: 9781412958783 | Online ISBN: 9781412963893| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Alternative Energy, Solar
DeMond S. Miller
SOLAR ENERGY REFERS to forms of energy emitted by the sun, including light, radio waves, and x-rays. Accounting for 99.8 percent of the mass in our solar system, the sun is a self-sustaining nuclear fusion reaction by which hydrogen is converted to helium. Every second, the sun converts over 4 million metric tons of matter into solar energy. This matter is converted and released from the sun in the form of radiation waves that travel through the void of space and eventually reach earth. The radiant energy that eventually reaches the earth's surface is estimated around 1,000 watts per sq. m. The sun is similar to a fusion reactor that emits 3,800 million, million, million, million watts of energy each second, which is 20,000 times the energy requirement of the world. Solar power, as an alternative fuel, involves transforming some of the sun's massive thermal energy into electricity. Individuals driven ...