Solar PowerFor years now, everyone has relied heavily on fossil fuels to power our day to day life whether it's powering our homes, running our cars, or generating electricity. So far, fossil fuels have been a huge asset and a pretty efficient way of powering the world. However, in recent years we have come to the realization that our resources are being depleted rapidly. What is even worse is that these fuels we rely on so much are poisoning our planet. With these problems in mind, it is now our responsibility to figure out a safe, efficient, and reusable source of energy. One method which is becoming more popular lately is solar power. Solar power is light that is taken from the Sun and converted into usable energy for daily use. The Sun is a reliable source since it has been around for billions of years and is incredibly powerful. It is time to start being proactive and figure out a smarter alternative. Although solar power solutions have been around for some time now, people still mostly rely on fossil fuels. By promoting solar power then maybe we can help bring an end to the necessity of the harmful fossil fuels.
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^^Pollution from fossil fuels.... YUCK!!!!^^

What is solar energy, and how does it work?
Solar power is totally rad. Solar energy comes from radiant light and heat from the sun. Almost all of the renewable energy on earth came from the sun. Solar radiation, as well as the secondary forms of energy it creates (wind power, wave power, hydroelectricity, biomass, etc.) account for the vast majority of renewable energy hear on earth. However, even though solar energy is awesome, only a tiny fraction of the available energy is actually used (what a shame).
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Solar power is a promising source of energy. The Earth recieves over 3,850 zettajoules(10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 joules of power) of solar energy each year, 30% of which is reflected back to space while the rest is absorbed by clouds, oceans and land masses. What is even better is that solar energy does not release carbon dioxide and the sun should be around for approximatly 10 billion years, long after we're all gone. Despite its potential, in 2008 solar energy supplied about .02% of the world's total energy.

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What is Solar Power?Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity. This can be done either directly using photovoltaics (PV), or indirectly using concentrated solar power (CSP). Concentrated solar power systems use lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam.

Photovoltaics convert light into electric current using the photoelectric effect. Solar technology is usually characterized as either passive or active depending on how the capture and convert solar energy. Active solar includes using photovoltaic panes and solar thermal collectors to capture energy while passive solar techniques are based on choosing materials with strong thermal mass that circulate air naturally.

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How Solar Power WorksOld-school solar technology uses large crystals made out of silicon.These crystals produce electrical currents when hit by light. Silicon can do this because the electrons in the crystal get excited and move when exposed to light. The silicon turns a good amount of the light energy into electricity. The down side is that silicon is expensive because big crystals are hard to grow. These days newer materials use smaller, cheaper crystals, like copper-indium-gallium-selenide. These can be shaped into flexible films but they are not as effective as silicon when it comes to turning light into electricity. A solar cell turns sunlight into electricity by absorbing light. When the light is absorbed, one of the electrons in one of the bonds gets excited and bumps up to a higher energy level. Then the electron can move freely around the crystal therefore giving us a current!

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Since there is obviously no sun present during the night, storage of solar energy if a crucial component. Solar energy can be stored at high temperatures using molten salts. These salts are an effective storage base because they are cheap, have a high capacity of heat and can deliver heat at temperatures compatible with conventional power systems.
Using solar power would help reduce C02 emissions greatly. Using solar energy to supply a million homes with energy would reduce CO2 emissions by 4.3 million tons per year, the equivalent of removing 850,000 cars from the road. Also, solar energy is completely renewable unlike fossil fuels. Thus, we don't have to worry about running out of sunlight. But the best part is that solar power doesn't create pollution and won't cause a greenhouse affect so our planet will be a better place!
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The Cons
However, there is always a downside. Solar power is not a very efficient way of powering homes and cars. Also, you have to have a large amount of solar panels to produce useful amounts of energy or heat.
Although solar power isn't an incredibly efficient way to power I believe that with the help of some breakthroughs, solar power could be a great alternative to fossil fuels. If we can produce a more efficient way to produce power from the Sun, then there will be an even greater upside. Solar energy is renewable so we won't have to worry about running out of a power source and it is completely harmless to Earth.

Contrary to popular belief, solar power is not a new technology. People have been using solar energy for thousands of years. The roots of solar energy can be traced back to ancient times, when people would build there houses into the dark side of hills. They did this to take advantage of the heat that was absorbed during the day which would then be released at night. Ancient Romans also knew that the sun was a valuable source of energy. They were the first people to use glass windows in their homes to trap solar energy for heat. Although people have understood the value of solar power for ages, it was not until 1776 that the first solar collector was built. This happened when a man named Haurace de Saussare created a cone shaped solar collector that could boil ammonia.

The Development of Solar Power: Major Milestones
1838: Edmund Bequerel, a French physicist who studied the solar spectrum, discovered the photo-voltaic effect. He published his findings, but did not get much attention.
1871: Auguste Mouchout develops to build an experimental solar-powered steam generator, and was able to use the energy from his device to create ice.
1873: Willoughby Smith, a British scientist, experimented with the use of selenium solar cells.

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Topsy Turvy

By Jerry Igo, Mosier, Oregon

We live in a world that is topsy-turvy
Words should be straight, not so darn curvy.They tell you one thing, it means another,
It's hard to trust people… well, maybe your brother.
Our energy plan is easy to track:
All we need to do is take over Iraq.
Dick Cheney says we'll do it for certain,
With a bit of cooperation from Halliburton.
The Iraqis will welcome us with widespread arms,
Like grenades, IEDs, and Al Qaeda charms.
We've got ourselves in a heckuva mess,
A lose-lose situation, no more and no less.
This nation's invasion isn't according to Hoyle.
All that we wanted was to steal their oil!
Just think of what could have been done instead,
Without all the killing, so many left dead.
A half-trillion dollars in wind and in sun,
Clean energy abundant, without using a gun.
It may be late now for just passing out blame,
Since nearly all of us will share the shame…
There's a way we can get started on the right track.
We put our thoughts and out words and our money
In a future that's windy and clean and sunny,
And historians look at us with thoughts reviewable,
And say: "They got it right with energy renewable!"