Sustainability is at the forefront of people’s minds these days. With climate change and the environment on everyone’s minds, more and more people are favouring sustainable energy sources. One such sustainable energy source is solar power. However, just how sustainable is solar energy? Does it really provide a long-term solution to energy supply problems?
To find out how long does solar energy last, we’ll need to look at a number of factors including the sun’s energy output, the angle at which the rays hit the ground and the size of the solar cell.
How Long Does Sunlight Last?
Let’s begin with the most basic of all solar energy questions: how long does sunlight last? The simple answer is: as long as the supply lasts.
When the Sun is up and shining, it provides us with enough energy to keep the lights on for hours. However, sunlight also has the unfortunate side effect of causing damage to unprotected surfaces as well as the toxins that it triggers (e.g. the Sun’s UV rays).
So if we want to determine how long does solar energy last, we must first determine how long does sunlight last? Luckily, the Sun is always shining so we don’t need to do any calculating to find out! However, in case you find yourself in need of this information, here’s a guide to tell you how long sunlight lasts:
When the Sun is directly above you, its rays are at their peak and provide the most energy. This is called the upper limit of sunlight. The closer the Sun is to the horizon, the less energy it provides and the more it loses its intensity. This is called the lower limit of sunlight.
So if you’re at the beach, lying in the sun with your eyes closed, you’re better off not moving around. You’ll get the most sunlight exposure when the Sun is right above you. However, if you’re in a vehicle, be careful not to spin the wheel because the Sun will then be behind you and your windows will become cloudy. Keep in mind that the lower the Sun is, the darker it gets. This makes it harder to see through the glass. As a general rule, the darker the environment, the shorter the day length so if you want to maximize your exposure to the sun, lie on a sunny beach or in the park.
Angle Of Incidence
As previously stated, the closer the Sun is to the horizon, the less energy it provides. This is not only applicable to direct sunlight but also to sunlight that is diffused by clouds or water. In the latter cases, the angle at which the sunlight hits the ground determines how much energy is stored in it. The more the sunlight is diffused, the more the angle at which it hits the ground determines its energy.
When the Sun is at its zenith, it provides us with almost direct sunlight and all the energy stored in it. The further it is from the horizon, the more the rays are diffused and the less power it provides. This is why when the Sun is at its zenith you don’t need to shade yourself because there’s no way the Sun’s rays can’t heat you up!
However, if you live in a sunny climate, you can always take advantage of the Sun’s energy by getting a few glasses of wine and lying in the sun to warm up. While this might be beneficial in the short-term, it’s not wise to rely solely on this source of energy because it won’t last forever.
Size Of Solar Cell
To generate more energy from the same amount of sunlight, you need to either use larger solar cells or decrease the amount of sunlight that hits the cell. The first option provides you with more energy but, if you want to make the most of the Sun’s energy, you should decrease the size of the cell as much as possible. For example, if you have a rooftop solar array, you should place it so that it faces south to catch as much direct sunlight as possible. In this case, decreasing the size of the cell will not only increase its efficiency but will also make it more flexible in terms of placing it on a slanted surface.
How Long Does Solar Energy Last?
So, how long does solar energy last? As per the simple answer, the supply lasts as long as the Sun continues to shine. However, as mentioned by the previous item, the closer the Sun is to the horizon, the less energy it provides. This makes it shorter in the day than at the zenith. The more the sunlight is diffused, the more the angle at which it hits the ground determines its energy. Finally, the larger the cell, the more energy it provides. In the end, these things considered, the Sun’s energy output is not constant and this gives it a limited lifespan.
To put it simply, when the Sun is at its zenith, you can depend on it for hours because its rays are powerful and direct. However, if it’s below the horizon, you can expect shorter days because it becomes harder for the Sun to heat up the ground as much as when it’s at its zenith. As for the solar cell, the bigger it is, the more energy it produces. However, this also means that it’s more fragile and hence less flexible in terms of adjusting its position on a slanted surface.
Knowing how long does solar energy last is essential since we need to consider this when determining how much energy we can generate from it. It’s also important to remember that if we want to use solar power as a sustainable energy source, we need to begin conserving it as much as possible. As much as possible, we should not depend on fossil fuels to generate energy because when they become depleted, our energy supply will be at its weakest. This is why it is important to begin conserving energy even when there is still sufficient sunlight because the Sun will soon be declining and this means we’ll start seeing darker days. So, instead of heating up in the summer and cooling down in the winter, we’ll start experiencing the opposite seasons.