Activity for Solar Energy Purposes
Solar variation has a
great effect on solar energy generating systems. Large solar flares
send out huge amounts of photons, which are the actual particles which
stimulate the solar cells to generate electricity. This means that
solar panels will generate
more electricity in periods following large solar storms
because of the increased amount of photons.
The amount of the sun’s
energy that strikes the earth also depends on the rotation of the earth
itself. The amount of sunlight that your solar panels can absorb
depends on the season
and the length of the day.
The difference between
seasons depends on your proximity
to the equator - there will be a huge difference if you
reside far from the equator, and this difference decreases as you
approach the equator. In winter, the sun is much lower in the sky and
the days are shortened, but by adjusting
the angle of your solar panels to correspond with that of
the sun, you can maximize your energy production.
You can use detailed instructions and a calculator for
determining the angle of the sun. It is recommended that you measure
this angle at least four
times a year, and adjust the angle of your solar panels to
correspond with the angle of the sun. Of course it will only be
necessary to perform these measurements during one year, and then you
can use the measurements at the same time the following year.
Many people make marks for
season on their solar panel mounting brackets so adjusting the angle is
a simple and quick process. By making these adjustments, you will be
able to ensure that your solar panels are at the angle which will
maximize the amount of sunlight hitting them.
Types of Solar Activity
large disturbances on the sun’s surface caused by solar flares.
sudden releases of a massive amount of energy by the sun, which sends
charged particles hurtling into space. They normally cause the surface
of the sun to brighten quite dramatically, although only for a short
period of time. The effects of solar flares are usually seen on earth
one to two weeks after they occur.
darkened areas on the sun’s surface which is caused by abnormal
magnetic activity in this area. Most solar flares originate from
sunspots and sunspot clusters. The amount of sunspots increases and
decreases throughout each solar cycle.
the constant flow of charged particles originating from the sun’s
atmosphere. Although its flow is constant, the amount of particles
being discharged and their speed varies over time. Solar flares result
in a huge amount of particles being released quickly, as does any other
increased solar activity.
Solar Cycles Explained
The sun is constantly
going through cycles which last around
eleven years each. Each cycle is marked by periods of
increased or diminished solar activity depending on the stage of the
cycle. These cycles have a large effect on solar variation, although
not all activity is determined by these cycles. Periods of severe solar
storms have occurred counter to the cycles, although this is a rare
The solar cycles are
documented through the amount of visible sunspots on the sun’s surface.
Through the use of telescopes, scientists and astronomers can monitor
the number and size of the visible sunspots and determine which part of
the cycle we are currently in.
Solar Wind and the
commonly known as "aurora
borealis", The Northern Lights is a term for the
phenomenon where solar
particles slam into the earth’s geomagnetic field and appear as beams
of colored light that fluctuate throughout the sky.
Although many people only
know of the northern lights, the correct term is for the phenomenon is
actually polar lights or aurora
polaris. This is because lights are often visible in the
southern hemisphere as well, and these southern lights are referred to
as aurora australis.
The polar lights originate
as charged particles that are carried out from the sun’s atmosphere by
When these particles
strike the earth’s geomagnetic field, they create currents of protons
and electrons which flow towards the earth’s poles following magnetic
lines. These currents gain energy travelling along these magnetic lines
until they reach the poles, where they collide with oxygen and nitrogen
These collisions are what
cause the spectacular light show that is associated with the polar
lights. The polar lights are much stronger during periods of increased
solar variation, as they are directly related to solar flares and
storms. Large solar flares produce the most spectacular polar lights
because of the large amounts of particles they send out.
These particles take
between a few days and a few weeks to reach the earth based on the
speed at which they are sent out, and the particles are tracked the
entire way. This makes it very easy to predict when the biggest polar
lights shows will occur.
to Solar Energy