What Is The Term For Energy From The Sun ?
We may earn commissions for purchases made through links on our site. Learn more on our about us page.
Energy from the sun is very important for our world and ourselves. We have many words for the energy from the sun, including solar energy, solar radiation, and sunlight. While they all refer to the energy from the sun, they all have slightly different meanings and descriptions.
Solar energy is the most common term, as it is the one we use the most and encompasses all of the energy that the planet and humans can harvest. If you want to know more about all the terms and more about solar energy in general, continue reading below.
Is Solar Power the Same As Solar Radiation?
Solar power and solar radiation aren’t quite the same, but they are close. Solar radiation is the light and heat given off by the sun. It is sent out into space; some hit the planet, and some get lost.
Solar energy is specifically the solar radiation that reaches earth. This is the light and heat that is absorbed by the planet and not reflected out into space by the earth or just ambiently released into space.
When we talk about solar energy and its potential, it has to help people on earth with a more clean and renewable source of energy, and it is solar power they are referring to.
Though we could potentially harvest solar radiation at some point, it is far out as we don’t know how to send the energy back to earth without a huge loss of energy.
When Was Solar Energy Mentioned First?
The idea behind solar energy isn’t a new one. It has been talked about as far back as the 7th century B.C. This was when people started to actively use magnifying glasses to harvest concentrated solar energy for lighting fires and torches.
This started to pick up in the 3rd century B.C. when Greeks and Romans were very focused on fire and the sun and found lighting fires with energy from the sun to be the best practice for religious ceremonies.
As time progressed, other materials were used to harvest energy from the sun, such as bronze armor, mirrors, and more.
Finally, in the 1st century A.D., we started to realize that the warmth of the sun could also be utilized by having windows that faced south to best heat up rooms and baths.
At some point, the energy from the sun was considered so important that people could pay and had the right to access the sun, and many homes were built with sunrooms or terraces to allow everyone to access the sun in their homes.
What are the Two Types of Energy from the Sun?
The two types of energy that the sun provides and that we can utilize are light and heat. Light is what we use with solar panels. It can be converted into electricity that we can use in cars, homes, and industrial buildings.
Light is also what we used originally to start fires, as the concentrated light and heat can cause sparks or fire to start.
Heat is more simple. We can convert it to energy, but it is most often used to warm up homes, liquids, and spaces.
For example, you can use heat from the sun to reduce your dependence on a water heater, better warm up your home to reduce heater usage, and put windows on the south side.
What Does Solar Energy Include?
Solar energy includes general heat and light. These two forms of energy can be used for electricity, solar thermal energy, and even solar architecture.
It occurs thanks to nuclear fusion in the sun. The hydrogen atoms moving around collide in the center of the sun and create helium atoms. This is known as a proton-to-proton reaction and releases a lot of energy that the sun can’t contain and spreads out around it.
We get other energy sources from the sun, but sunlight is the biggest and most useful form and the only one we really have the technology to harvest now.
Is There Energy from the Sun During Night Time?
There is energy from the sun available at night. The most obvious is light. The moon does not have its own light. So when we can see it at night, it is because the sun’s light reflects off it.
So we still get a little solar energy via light at night. Right now, the amount is so faint we don’t have a way to properly utilize it, but work is being done on this kind of research.
Additionally, there is ambient heat from the sun. During the day, rocks, soil, and other materials absorb the heat produced by the sun. During the night, when it is colder, they release this heat, which keeps the planet at a relatively stable temperature.
Final Thoughts on the Term For Energy From The Sun
Solar energy is a part of solar radiation and is the part we can best use to our advantage. It is a mix of light and heat, and we can use both to our advantage to reduce our need for standard energy like coal and fossil fuels.
While right now, efficiency for harvesting this light and energy isn’t very practical, there is always work being done on making it easier, more cost-effective, and better designed to work for anyone in any location.
This isn’t a new idea, either. We have been using solar energy, both heat, and light, as far back as seven centuries B.C. We have always relied on the sun to provide us with light and warmth, and now we are finding ways to use it more.