Q&A: How much solar energy is produced every hour?

Question by Bel: How much solar energy is produced every hour?
I need to know how much energy is produced by solar energy and photovoltaics. Preferably in kilo watt hours but anything will do ;/

Best answer:

Answer by Bongani Makhathini
This one is a bit of a toughy.

Solar panels collect solar radiation from the sun, actively convert that energy to electricity. Solar panels make use of the extremely small fraction of the sun’s energy that passes through earth’s atmosphere and strikes the cells on the solar collector.

NOTE: The, EFFICIENCY of these solar panels, and the resultant energy produced is dependant on many climatic, geographic, and weather-related factors. Arid climates are ideal for solar panels, and they will produce more energy in areas where they are exposed to direct sunlight under clear skies. Places like Spain, Hawaii and Japan to mention a few have ideal solar settings and its easier to do “accurate” calculations because of the consistent sun.

Even at optimal efficiency, solar panels only convert a tiny percentage of the energy that strikes its surface to worthwhile energy. The efficiency factors is in the teens for most solar cells. Advanced solar cells, like those used on the Voyager spacecraft, have much higher efficiency ratings, but are much too expensive to produce for general purposes.

Energy from the sun?
Solar panels have the ability to meet all of our energy needs, but at present we only use a tiny fraction of the energy that the sun has to offer. How much energy does the sun produce? How is it produced? And how much of the sun’s energy can be theoretically harvested via solar cells?

Energy from the sun is caused from thermonuclear expolosions deep within the sun. These explosions fuse atoms of hydrogen into atoms of helium. A tremendous amount of energy is released during the thermonuclear reaction and the sun releases that energy as radiation. This radiation travels through space at the speed of light, and solar panels can make practical use of it. Our sun generates an enourmous amount of energy, and potentially, had we had technology to harvest that sunlight with solar arrays across the solar system, we could harvest huge amounts of energy.

According to our friends at Astronomy Cafe, we calculate the amount of energy given off the sun every hour as:

“3.8 x 10^33 ergs/sec or 3.8 x 10^26 watts of power, an amount of energy each second equal to 3.8 x 10^26 joules. In one hour, or 3600 seconds, [the Sun] produces 1.4 x 10^31 Joules of energy or 3.8 x 10^23 kilowatt-hours.”
The sun produces more energy every hour than the entire energy needs of human civilization from the beginning of time. Solar panels will help us harvest increasing amounts of this abundance of energy to meet our energy needs in the future.

Hope that helps. There are other energy tips on the below link. You can also click the active links within this page that will direct you to the Solar Energy site that can teach you further should you find the site useful.

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2 Responses to “Q&A: How much solar energy is produced every hour?”

  1. that depends on the panels being used, distance from the equator, cloud cover and time of year.

  2. In 2009 it was almost 25,000 megawatts with another 16,000 forecasted for 2010.
    That’s about 40,000,000 kilowatts.

    The article below has links to the data it claims.

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