Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Least Efficient Form of Solar Energy (Illustration Friday: Fuel)

© 2011 Sylvia Liu
(click on the image to enlarge)

Almost every fuel we use or consume is a form of solar energy. Some captured the sun's energy hundreds of millions of years ago (fossil fuels like oil, natural gas, and coal). Some indirectly reflect the sun's effects on weather and water systems (wind and hydropower). Some directly tap the sun's energy (solar power). Even the foods we consume either directly transformed solar power (plants) or indirectly did so through the food chain (animals). 

Every hour, the sun floods the earth with more energy than the human population can use in a year. Wouldn't it be great if we could use our collective ingenuity to capture some of that directly instead of relying on Paleozoic algae and plankton? A recent Scientific American article, "Making Solar Panels as Ubiquitous and Efficient as Leaves," argues that we need to imitate the leaf, the ultimate inexpensive solar panel.

Can you think of any fuels that are not ultimately solar powered? Maybe nuclear power?


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10 comments:

  1. Great Concept :) and love the style

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  2. I love this and couldn't agree more!

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  3. I'll be sure to share this diagram so that people will be aware of what's happening to the earth. Thanks.

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  4. This is a very nice diagram for us to know about whats happening.

    solar tube

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  5. At present we need all ways to save energy to help our environment. Although there are energy-saving led light bars that are invented now, we should also make use of other resources such as the solar energy.

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  9. These clean, green technologies will be the core of the next industrial revolution, according to Tony Juniper, Friends of the Earth director.Solar Power for Hospitals

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