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solar power

OLogy Series
geology
card
299

solar power

OLogy Series
geology

There are many kinds of energy. But only one makes plants grow, drives the weather, and keeps our planet warm enough for life. It's solar energy, the heat and light from the Sun. Solar energy can also produce electricity. In one way, solar panels capture sunlight and convert it directly into electricity. In a different process, solar collectors use sunlight to generate electricity at solar power plants.

Solar collectors use _____ to focus sunlight.

mirrors

prisms

satellites

Are you right?

Correct!

Solar collectors use mirrors to focus sunlight onto pipes filled with fluid. The hot fluid is used to boil water. The steam from the boiling water turns a turbine that runs a generator that produces energy.

Solar power is:

limited

non-renewable

renewable

Are you right?

Correct!

Solar power is renewable and unlimited. Whenever the Sun is shining, we have solar power. Scientists are working on effective ways to store solar power overnight and during cloudy weather.

In the United States, most large solar power plants are found in:

Alaska

California

Minnesota

Are you right?

Correct!

In fact, large solar power plants have been in operation in California since the 1970s. The vast sunny deserts of southwest California are an ideal location for solar power plants.

Solar power is not convenient for people living in cities, where there's limited room for solar panels.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Solar panels can be installed on city rooftops. And solar concentrators can power plants in urban areas.

Every hour, the Sun provides Earth with enough energy to meet the world's energy needs for one year.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

But solar panels work best in sunny spots, like deserts. In the future, high-voltage electrical lines could carry electricity from remote solar plants to communities.

Definition: energy from the Sun that can be collected and turned into electricity
Carbon Dioxide Emissions: None!
Cost: getting cheaper (vs. other energy sources)
Location: works best in areas that receive
strong, consistent sunlight
Current Use: Solar power provides less than 1% of the world's energy, but this is growing rapidly.
Cool Fact: Solar panels are popular in Kenya. They power things like TVs, fans, and cell phones.

Image credits: courtesy of Corbis/AGE Fotostock.