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Published: Sunday 04 August, 2013

canada goose hat uk canada goose hat uk Do solar panels cause the Earth to retain heat

Ordinarily sunlight is reflected off a surface only a part of it will be absorbed and bounced back into space. A solar panel on the other hand is designed to absorb the energy more efficiently and isnt going to bounce the light back into space. If as a planet we had a massive adoption of solar panels wouldnt we cause the Earth to retain more heat than if sunlight were to bounce off the surface of the Earth?

It seems likely that on the whole widespread adoption of solar panels would be beneficial for reducing global warming less fossil fuels, etc. but Im curious if there is some competing effect because the way they work is to absorb radiation.

Solar panels absorb sunlight, and convert it to electricity, not heat. They are not very efficient at doing that, but then you have to consider where solar panels are located. Most of the visible light reflected from the Earth is reflected by clouds, oceans, and ice and snow. Most solar collectors are not positioned in these areas. Solar collectors will not absorb light that is reflected by clouds, before it gets to the collectors. Most solar collectors are on rooftops and in cities, where the light is going to be absorbed and converted into heat and infra red wavelengths anyway.

Solar collectors do heat up because they only convert less than 20% of the lights energy into electricity, but they heat up the same amount as whatever they are covering for the most part. There is no net loss of light reflection out into space.

According to NASA, if we made a 1% change in the earths reflectivity albedo, it would noticeably affec canada goose hat uk t the climate.

Currently, the earth reflects about 36% of the suns radiation and absorbs 64%. That means a perfectly black solar panel zero albedo would absorb only 50% more energy than the earth does itself.

To lower the albedo by 1% wed have to cover 1/36 of the earth with solar panels. That would be 14 million square kilometers, and at 1,400 watts per square meter average from the sun that would be 2 1016 watts, or 20,000 Terawatts. We only need 15 Terawatts. Even if the panels are only 10% efficient, we wouldnt need enough panels to make a difference.

Thats if we continue to burn oil, too. Each watt of oil that we burn also heats up the atmosphere. If every watt we got from solar power was offset by a drop in oil consumption, we wouldnt actually be pumping any more heat into the atmosphere at all. Plus, wed be putting out fewer greenhouse gases, which help trap the heat that does arrive from the sun.

The only way widespread adoption of solar panels would cause a problem is if we decided to be so energyinefficient that we had to cover a serious fraction of the earth with them.

Solar panels can use two methods to produce electricity canada goose hat uk : using the photovoltaic effect and converting the heat into electricity. For the second, water is circulated through the solar panel in a closed system. The solar energy is changed from one form of energy heat into another electricity, so the amount of heat that is not converted is lower than otherwise.

Further, there is only about 1 kilowatt of power th canada goose hat uk at reaches each square meter approximately 10 square feet of the Earth surface each day, whether put into a solar panel or not. That amount of power is negligible for heating the planet. As a portion of that energy will be converted into power if a solar panel is used, there will be less energy available to heat the Earth and, as such, will tend to make the Earth cooler.

Now having said that, let me say this: it would take an enormous number of solar panels to affect the surface temperature of the planet by any measureable amount. Most of the heat from the planet is from heat retension by the surface rather than heating of the atmosphere. This is logical anyway since the crust of the planet is much more dense than air.

A solar panel by itself will not retain any more heat than a standard section of black tar roofing shingle. If anything, because of the glassy reflective surface, it will bounce back some of the high infrared to avoid heat retention that way.

The manufacturing process for a solar panel requires a lot of heat as silica is melted into a fine glass that is then molded with fine copper or gold wiring and linked together into a photo voltaic circuit. That creates heat and greenhouse gases by the construction method.

Now a solar heat exchanger which uses flexible tubing to carry water to the roof or solar panel to heat water that way and process heat and/or cooling does retain heat. There is always a small amount of heat loss through induction and blackbody radiation; but again, the amount is so small compared to a car, bus or airplane that it would not appreciably increase global warming.

Dont look at the end product as a cause or a reason look at the manufacturing process as to the main causes of excess heat, those manufacturing processes dump so much heat into our atmosphere that even covering the surface in glass and photo voltaic panels would not increase anything, except make the planet quite ugly. canada goose hat uk