What do you see when you look up at the sky in the morning? birds? Clouds? Maybe the sun? Well, you can see all three, but the sun rises and sets steadily each day. No matter where we are, we've all seen the sun. The Sun is so important that it has been observed by astronomers, scientists and researchers for generations. At one point it even led to a war between churches and astronomers like Galileo, and from that ordeal we have gleaned a now widely accepted theory that the sun is the center of our solar system. With a title like this, the sun must undoubtedly be a star! Well, it is physically a star and serves many functions such as; B. providingSolar energy and life on earth, earning it its star-studded title.
Solar energy and life on earth at a glance
solar poweris any energy that comes from the sun.
solar poweris made byKernfusionthat occurs in the sun. Nuclear fusion happens when theProtons of hydrogen atoms (H) collide quicklyandcombinetoCreate a helium (He) atom.
in the merger processEnergy is releasedbecause the mass of the resulting helium atom is less than that of the starting hydrogen atoms.
The core of the sun is melting around620 million tonsof hydrogen per second and supplies the sun, a star, with oneunlimited energy and heat. The temperature is about 4 million degrees Kelvin or 7 million degrees Fahrenheit.
light and energy from the sunmost of timetravel by X-rays, gamma rays, ultraviolet (UV) radiation and infrared. X-rays, gamma rays and UV light arehigh frequency lightmainlyabsorbeduntilearth atmosphere. FastatThe warmth that we receive on earth is in theform of infrared light.
It lies between UV and infrared lightvisible spectrum, which includes all colors that we can see with the naked eye.
Light emitted by the sunis essentialSurvivelike it "agreenhouse effect". When we think of the greenhouse effect, we think ofglobal warming, but the greenhouse effect is essentially fairHeat caused by infrared, UV, and visible light emitted by the sun. The heat of these waves makes theearth warmenough to sustain life.
One30%vonsolar poweris on earthreflected in space, and the rest isabsorbedin theEarth's surface and atmosphere. The sun's energy or radiation heats the earth's surface and, as itrisesthrough the atmosphere, it istrapped by greenhouse gasessuch as carbon dioxide (\(CO_2\)) and methane (\(CH_4\)).
By trapping radiation in the greenhouse, gases can be likened to the glass walls of a greenhouse, sustaining life by trapping heat.
Figure 1: Illustrated greenhouse effect. Wikimedia, EPO.
Importance of the sun for life on earth
Now that we understand what solar energy is and how it relates to the sun and life on earth, we can talk about ithow the sun sustains life on earth.
The sun can worrywarmththat warms the planet through the greenhouse effect. Solar energy can also be used byliving organismssuch asPlantto synthesize nutrients in the form of glucose.Primary producers or autotrophscan get through their foodphotosynthesisand other organismsEnergythrough consumption.
For example,Plantproduce their own food, harvest light energy from the sun, and organisms such as humans use it for energy. Organisms that have to eat other organisms to get nutrients are namedHeterotrophe, or consumer.
DieEnergy produced by photosynthesisPlantfrom millions of years ago is responsibleform fossil fuels. Fossil fuels currently supply around80% of the energy on our planet, she makes aimportant source of energy and gasfor us. Fossil fuels were formed millions of years ago from theleftovers fromPlantandAnimals. These remains have been subjected toenormous pressureandintense temperaturescreate fossil fuels. Fossil fuels include, and unfortunately do include, things like natural gas, oil, propane, and keroseneNot renewable, as they take millions of years to form.
The sun also supplies ussolar power, the Arenewable resource.
Arenewable resourceis a resource thatrefills itself after a while.
Solar energy can beharvested from panels orcellsandconvertedinto usable energy in the form of electricity and heat.
The sun also sustains life by driving usSeasons, climate, weather and ocean currents!
The earth, revolving around the sun with an inclined axis, gives us our seasons.(Video) Grade 7 - Natural Science - Solar Energy and Life on Earth / WorksheetCloud Video Lesson
Solar energy heats the air masses and causes climate and weather changes.
Ocean currents result from global wind patterns driven by solar energy.
Figure 2: The sun drives processes such as photosynthesis. Daniela Lin, Study Smarter Originals.
Types of energy that life receives from the sun
Now that we understand the role of the sun in sustaining life on earth, we need to go through in detail the types of energy that the sun gives off.
DieSonneofferstwo main types of energy,in the form oflight and warmth. We usually callelectromagnetic radiationproduced by the sunsolar radiation. Sun exposure can beconvertedinvaluable energy, including heat and electricity that canpower our planet. Solar energy is produced by nuclear fusion or when hydrogen atoms are converted into helium. This process releases energy in the form ofElectromagnetic waves.
Electromagnetic wavesmaking charged particles like electrons move through time and space at about 300,000 kilometers per second, or theSpeed of Light. Electromagnetic waves can be described bywaves and frequency.
The longer the wavelength, the lower the frequency; the shorter the wavelength, the higher the frequency.
Dieelectromagnetic spectrumis therange of wavelengths and frequenciesto which electromagnetic radiation can extend.
Remember that the sun primarily emits energy throughX-rays, UV radiation and infrared light. are gamma raysNotemits since the sun produces them, but transforms them intolow photonsbefore being emitted into space.
UV radiationis a type of electromagnetic radiation that accounts for about 10% of the total energy emitted by the sun. Its wavelength is shorter than visible light but longer than X-rays. In controlled amounts, it is beneficial for humans as it allows the synthesis of vitamin D, but too much can lead to skin conditions such as sunburn and sunburnKrebs.
x-raysare a type of electromagnetic radiation with short wavelengths, meaning they have high energy that allows them to happen most things; Doctors can use it to take X-rays of the body.
infrared lightis a type of electromagnetic radiation that has a longer wavelength than visible light but shorter than radio waves. Infrared light is essential because it provides heat to our land and waters. More than half of the rays emitted by the sun are infrared light.
Figure 3: Illustrated electromagnetic spectrum. Wikimedia, NASA.
Benefits of solar energy
Now that we understand why solar energy is so important and what types of solar energy exist, let's take a lookBenefits of using solar energy.
- Solar energy is arenewable resourcewhich can be refilled or restored within a lifetime. Solar energy, unlike fossil fuels, will remain an accessible form of energy as long as the sun is up.
Our sun is expected to die for being a star, but fortunately not for billions of years.
- solar energy isdiverse, how it goesgenerate electricity and heat. Electricity is generated by solar photovoltaics or semiconducting materials such as silicon. In comparison, thermal solar panels collect energy from the sun and convert it into heat.
Total is the energy produced by the suncheaper and cheaperas fossil fuels.
- Solar energy can power placeswithoutEnergy networks, electricity energysatellitesin space, and evenclean water.
- Solar energy is also acleaner shapeenergy compared tofossil fuels.
When fossil fuels are burned, they release nitrogen oxides into our atmosphere, resulting in smog and acid rain. Fossil fuels also release large amounts of carbon dioxide into our air, leading to global warming.
Solar energy is toocleaner than nuclear energy.
Nuclear power in high doses can cause illness and death in humans and releases radioactive waste. Nuclear energy has a high initial cost, is non-renewable, can affect our environment and poses the risk of accidents.
A famous example of a nuclear accident is Chernobyl in Ukraine in 1986.
Negative effects of solar energy
Bet you're thinking now, if solar power is so great, why are we still using nuclear power and fossil fuels? So theAmount of solar energy has increasedin the past few years.
For example, the growth rate of renewable energy increased by around 45% in 2020!
Nevertheless there is stillPitfalls in using solar energy, which we will discuss in this section.
There aretwo ways we can use solar energy, and that's either throughPhotovoltaiccellsorsolar thermalPlant. DieLageand theMy countryrequired may be different depending on which one we are using.
The estimate forPhotovoltaic modules is 3.5 to 10 hectares per megawattand around4 to 16.5 acres per megawatt for thermal. Also solar systemscannot divide the countrywith agricultural uses like other forms of energy. Some solutions to this include building commercial-scale photovoltaicsPlantand use of contaminated land or other areas where habitat loss is less of a concern.
wateris required forcoolingwhen we make solar panels. The amount of water used depends on theDesign, location and type of system used. we can usedry cooling technologyto minimize the amount of water used, but it leads tolower efficiencies, well above temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a problem because many regions in the US require italternative forms of energymost are in thedriest climate.
Diechemicalsused toproduce solar energyPlantcould be as welldangerous.
Hydrochloric and sulfuric acid are used, for example, in the semiconductor industry and in photovoltaicsPlantcontain gallium arsenide. If not recycled properly, it can harm the environment.
Although solar energy isNotrelated to global warming emissions,manufacturingPhotovoltaic and thermal panels is. Most of the problems are not related to the use of solar energy, but to the material we use to convert energy into electricity and heat.Installation, manufacture, maintenanceetc. produce an average of 0.07 and 0.18 pounds of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour.
Overall, as our technology implementation improves, we should see greater use of renewable energy such as solar power. The sun is an essential star in our life and provides us with many forms of energy and is therefore closely studied by many scientists and researchers.
Solar Energy and Life on Earth - Key Takeaways
- Solar energy is any energy that comes from the sun, a major star.
- Solar energy is generated by nuclear fusion that takes place in the sun. Nuclear fusion occurs when collisions occur rapidly and cause the release of energy.
- The sun provides two main types of energy, light and heat. Solar radiation can be converted into useful energy, including heat and electricity, which can power our planet.
- The light emitted by the sun is essential for survival because it creates a "greenhouse effect". The greenhouse effect is heat caused by electromagnetic radiation from the sun, which makes the earth warm enough to support life.
- Overall, as our technology implementation improves, we should see greater use of renewable energy such as solar power.
- Kimberly Dumke, The Power of the Sun, National Geographic, 2022.
- Andrew Turgeon Elizabeth Morse, Solarenergie, National Geographic, 2022.
- British Geological Survey, The Greenhouse Effect, 2022.
- Climate Science Investigations (CSI), Electromagnetic Radiation, 2013.
- Union of Concerned Scientists, Environmental Impacts of Solar Energy, 2013.