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What are some facts about solar power?

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Quick Answer

Some facts about solar power are that it hardly pollutes at all and is free except for construction costs. Solar panels are becoming so inexpensive that they may soon be standard in new construction. Solar power can be used to cool, heat and light homes and power up electric cars.

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Full Answer

Every hour, enough silent energy emanates from the sun to supply everyone's energy needs for a year if it is harnessed.

Some solar energy technology is active, such as photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight to electricity. Another type of active solar power is thermal. Sunlight boils water and creates steam, which is harnessed to generate electricity or heat buildings and water.

Other solar power use is passive, such as big windows. In the Northern Hemisphere, when buildings are constructed with windows facing south, they collect more of the sun's heat.

Solar power is free except for the cost to buy and install the panels or build and operate the power plants. Use of solar energy causes no pollution to the air, land or water, though manufacture of photovoltaic cells generates some pollution. Impacts to the environment can be reduced by placing photovoltaic cells and power plants in less sensitive areas.

In the future, the cost of photovoltaic cells may be about equal to traditional power sources.

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