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Solar power

Related Terms

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Background

  • Solar power refers to energy from sunlight that has been converted into thermal or electrical energy.
  • Solar energy is the source of much of the energy on the planet. Sunlight powers photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert water and carbon dioxide into glucose, the sugar that plants need to grow; over millions of years, plants decompose and turn into coal and oil. Temperature differences on the surface of the Earth caused by solar energy create wind. Wind power can be harnessed to generate electricity. Solar energy also powers the water cycle, which is the heating and cooling of water that constantly replenishes bodies of water. The water cycle fuels hydropower, which is the generation of electricity by harnessing the energy of moving water. Solar energy can also be directly used for lighting, heat, and electricity production.
  • The amount of solar energy that reaches the Earth depends on location, time of day, weather conditions, and time of year. On average, each meter of land on the planet receives 4.2 kilowatt-hours of energy daily, which almost equals the energy in a barrel of oil. Deserts collect the most sun, at about 6 kilowatt-hours daily. On the other hand, some northern cities can get as little as 0.7 kilowatt-hours each day, less in the winter.
  • Humans have used solar power for centuries to light and heat buildings, heat water, and cook food. Mirrors were used to concentrate the sun's light as early as 213 B.C.
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Technique

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Theory/Evidence

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Health Impact/Safety

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Future Research or Applications

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.