How Much Solar Energy is Available to the Earth’s Surface?

You may have heard about solar power, and how much of it there is. If not, here’s your chance to find out. We’ll cover everything from how much sunlight there is to how much energy it produces, and how exactly this energy is generated. With some simple math, you can even figure out how much energy your local solar farm could provide. So, let’s get into it. 

How Much Sunlight and Space Does My Area Get?

This is the first and most fundamental question you need to ask yourself before you start buying any equipment or changing any habits. After all, you can never have too much solar energy. It’s always sunny somewhere, right? Not necessarily. The answer to this question will determine how much energy you can actually produce with your setup. To find out, you’ll need to know a bit about how solar energy works, and the factors that determine how much of it there is in your area. Let’s discuss each scenario separately.

Scenario One: Dry Season

Even if it’s sunny where you are, and even if the seasons haven’t changed, this won’t necessarily mean that there’s a lot of solar energy available to you. The amount of sunlight that reaches the earth’s surface during the day is dependent on a variety of factors, such as the season and time of day. In the summer, the sun is high in the sky and its rays are beaming down on the earth, warming it up. This is why seasons affect how much solar energy there is. In the winter, the Earth is in a deep shadow, and although there might be some direct sunlight beaming down, a lot of it is reflected off the clouds, once again providing less heat to the surface. 

In the winter, the amount of direct sunlight reaching the surface is low, which is why you might not see much difference between day and night. This is why in the winter, the best time to generate power is at night.

Scenario Two: Wet Season

Now, if it’s raining where you are, and even if the seasons haven’t changed, this doesn’t mean there’s a lot of solar energy available to you. Even though it might be sunny where you are, the drops of water glistening on the ground mean that there’s not much sunlight to be had. This is why in the wet season, it is important to find places that get a lot of sunlight and stay out of the rain. If possible, find a roof that you can install gear on so that when the drops of rain bounce off the surface, it doesn’t damage the electronics. 

Scenario Three: Cloudy Season

If it’s cloudy where you are and even if the seasons haven’t changed, this doesn’t mean there’s a lot of solar energy available to you. Although you might be able to see the sun, it probably won’t be able to penetrate the clouds, which is why this season provides less heat for the surface. 

In the cloud season, there’s not much difference between day and night, as the daylight is mostly obscured by the thick clouds. However, if you want to generate power during this time, the best option might be to install a solar panel on the roof, as this is when the energy is mostly available.

What is the Angle of Incidence?

This is simply the direction that the Sun’s rays are coming from. When determining how much solar energy is available to the surface, you need to know the angle of incidence. For example, if you are in the northern part of the U.S and you want to know how much sunlight reaches the surface, you need to subtract the angle of incidence from 90 degrees. This is because at 90 degrees, all the sun’s rays are coming straight down on the surface, providing maximum heat. A number close to, but less than 90 degrees means the angle of incidence is somewhere between those two numbers. For example, if the angle of incidence is 67 degrees, this means that only 67% of the sun’s rays are coming down on the surface, while the remaining 33% are beaming down at an angle. 

Knowing the angle of incidence is critical in determining how much solar energy is available to the surface. However, this number can vary a lot from one area to another. For instance, if you live in the middle of the desert, the angle of incidence is going to be much smaller than if you are in the forest. This is why it’s important to know the location you are in before you make any assumptions about how much energy is available. 

How Does Reflectivity of the Surface Determines How Much Energy Is Available?

This is another important factor that determines how much energy is available. The higher the reflectivity of the surface, the more sunlight is reflected back to space, providing an opportunity to generate more heat. Ideally, you want to find a highly reflective surface, such as a mirror or highly polished steel. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case, and most surfaces aren’t as shiny as they could be. Still, the best option is often the one that is closest to being perfectly reflective. For example, if you live in a neighborhood with lots of trees, it might be a good idea to find a way to paint your external walls, so that the leaves on the trees can bounce off the surface and beamed down to the ground, providing more energy for you. You can also think about investing in some solar shades, which could save you a lot of energy in the long run. 

In the end, the surface you are working with determines how much energy is available to you. If it’s a concrete surface, it’s not going to provide much in the way of reflectivity, while a lot of wood might. You are going to have to find out which one is best suited for your situation. This is why it’s important to test any new surface you plan on using before you make any final decisions. You can also think about investing in some solar reflective panels, which could help a lot.

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