Why Is Solar Energy Renewable?

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In today's environmentally conscious world, many people worry that traditional energy sources will soon run out, leaving consumers without power. Luckily, humanity can tap many sources of abundant renewable energy, such as the sun.

Solar Energy Defined

  • The heat and light that radiate from the sun make up solar energy. According to the Pembina Institute, the amount of energy that reaches Earth from the sun in 20 minutes would provide a year's worth of power for the entire planet.

Time Frame

  • The sun is a large star, and like all stars it will eventually die; however, the Solar Views website states that this is not expected to happen for 5 billion years. Because of this huge time frame, we can use the sun as an energy source almost indefinitely. This is why it is considered renewable. Unlike non-renewable sources such as coal and natural gas, the sun's energy will not run out for billions of years.

Function

  • With the use of solar panels, solar energy can be collected and converted into electricity. Solar panels, also known as photovoltaic cells, work by absorbing sunlight and then releasing electrons, which form an electric current. The electricity produced is then either used immediately or stored in batteries for later use. In areas that don't get enough sun to use solar energy, other sources of renewable energy can be used, including geothermal (volcanic), hydroelectric (water) and the wind.

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References

  • Photo Credit Solar image by Thomas Leiss from Fotolia.com
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