Using Green Energy To Help Everyone
When the sun shines for one hour there is enough solar energy for 1 year. But is this true?
The sun shines on us every day, it comes down here we gather it up and we use it for energy
– boom boom boom, done!
But it’s slightly more complicated than that, as you know. In 1873, electrical engineer Willoughby Smith
found out that the element selenium was photoconductive
when exposed to sunlight the metallic form of selenium becomes a semiconductor!
Three years later, other scientists discovered selenium could be used to create electricity from sunlight
dubbed the photoelectric effect. When sunlight hits a metal like selenium the electromagnetic
radiation is absorbed into it –this fueled a whole HOST of physics nerds who are still
arguing to this day whether light is a wave or particle.
It was such a big deal the 1921 Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to Albert Einstein for explaining the photoelectric
effect, and for his contributions to theoretical physics… or whatever.
Eventually, scientists discovered that the light energy causes the freeing of electrons
which, if captured, could be used to generate electricity!. This photoelectric effect has
since been cultivated and researched , and the discovery that all sorts of
elements display a photoelectric effect opened it up for use in a number of inventions!
Photosensitive cells are used in televisions, industrial processes, telecommunications, fiber optics,
copy machines, spectroscopy and telescopy, and to sense pollution or emphasize other
lights like in night vision goggles.
Photovoltaics were invented in the 1950s, and were popularized by the space program
as a way to power satellites. In the 1970s, pushes were made to modernize photovoltaics
for use in commercial and residential power — but consumers mainly used them for calculators,
watches, radios and the like. Like a battery, a photovoltaic cell has a positive and negative
to guide the electrons into the system.
Each cell uses a pair of silicon wafers –one doped with phosphorous (negative) and one with boron (positive).
From 1995 to 2010 solar energy use grew 20 percent a year — and now, new inventions
are making it even more affordable. Firstly, in 2009, China created way more solar panels
than were needed, and such the price went down. Also , governments on all levels
in the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and Japan are all giving subsidies
to cultivate better renewable energy systems. This means more supply and demand for this
technology, and as money flows through renewables, they get better!
Recently the University of Queen Mary in London revealed they can turn shrimp shells into
cheap solar panels. The shells of crustaceans contain chitin and chitosan which can be extracted
into CQD or carbon quantum dots — CQD solar cells aren’t new, but usually use expensive
ruthenium for its photoelectric properties. Instead, the researchers found this biomass
byproduct of the shrimp industry can be used to extract CQDs and create fully renewable,
cheap solar cells!
Pretty cool, huh? Fortunately solar cells aren’t the only place finding greener solutions
for energy use — Toyota is, too! The new Toyota Mirai is looking to the future with
sustainability in mind; fueled by hydrogen and leaving zero emissions behind.
Every year renewable energy is getting better, but it’s not yet as efficient as we’d hope.
For more on the efficiency of the most common types of energy production, check out my video
about that here
What do YOU think is the most promising type of energy? Solar? Wind? Nuclear? Or plain
old coal, oil and gas?