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English

Life on Earth is totally reliant on the Sun and the energy it radiates. At present more than 85% of the world’s energy usage comes from fossil fuels – crude oil, natural gas and coal. Hydroelectric and nuclear power make up another 13% and less than 1% is derived from solar energy. It is very likely that all of Earth’s fossil fuel reserves will be depleted before the end of the century – and they are not replaceable. Not only are they not replaceable, but when we do use them we add to both atmospheric pollution and global warming.

The Sun will be radiating energy for at least another 5 billion years. Every hour the amount of solar energy reaching Earth is greater than the total energy used by the entire population of Earth in a single year. Solar energy powers the Earth’s climate – it drives our winds and ocean currents, our rain, our rivers, our storms – our very lives. Plants and animals depend on the sun for light, heat and energy. Plants rely on solar energy in order to carry out photosynthesis – this helps to convert Carbon dioxide into oxygen – without which all animal life would die. Plants and animals that died millions of years ago decomposed, and were converted into today’s fossil fuels. Ultimately all life on Earth since the first life appeared has depended on our Sun for its existence.

It is no surprise, therefore, that many civilizations in the past, as well as some in the present, have worshiped the Sun. For without the Sun, without solar energy, we would not exist. It is up to us to accept these facts and to do something about our otherwise depleting energy sources. Over the past few years solar energy related products and services have multiplied dramatically, but it is important for everyone to do his bit to decrease our reliance on fossil fuels. Some wise countries are actually paying people for the energy that they feed back into the National Electricity Grid from solar panels installed on their roofs.

I will attempt to look at some of the many solar energy related applications that have come onto the market in recent years. In many countries there are actually laws preventing people from taking the initiative and converting their homes to being more energy efficient. I will go through some of the products that are available.

© Michael J Mason 2009

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