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How much energy does the sun produce? (and other fun facts)

how much energy does the sun produce

Image by NASA

I love the sun. Any bask in it is a revitalizing pause. Even when it’s cold outside, that radiating warmth from way out in space makes me feel pretty lucky. Here are 3 reasons why I think the sun is so amazing:

#1: Ever look up on a hot day and say, “I wonder how much energy the sun produces?” Well, it’s enough this hour to power 2,880 trillion light bulbs

In the image below you will see precisely 2,880 trillion light bulbs. Please pause for a moment to count them all to develop a respect for how much energy the sun produces.

millions of lightbulbs

That’s like giving every single person on the planet (that’s 7 billion people) a light bulb which will shine bright for their entire lifetime. Every hour, each square meter of the upper atmosphere receives 1.367kWh of solar Energy. Since a 60 watt bulb consumes 60 watt x hours in one hour, or 60 Wh x 24 hr/day = 1440 Wh per day and there are 120 trillion square meters in our atmosphere, that’s like dropping 120 TRILLION 60 watt light bulbs and still having enough electricity in one hour of sunlight for ALL of those light bulbs to shine for 24 hours!

#2: The sun is a giant nuclear explosion!

earth distance from sun

Located a mere 93 million miles away from our planet’s surface, the Sun is a thermonuclear fusion reaction. Good thing it’s that far away, since nuclear fusion involves temperatures in excess of 5700 oC, (and as high as 14 million oC in the case of earth’s sun). This reaction requires massive amounts of pure hydrogen gas which is found exclusively in outer space.

#3: The sun continuously pelts the earth with 35,000 times the amount of energy required by all of us who now use electricity on the planet!

That is a MASSIVE amount of electricity. That purple square above is the land area required in the United States covered in concentrating solar technology to power our entire country. Curious? Just see how far using $68B to develop solar thermal plants would go to securing our energy independence.

The main reason why we must use more of the energy the sun produces for our electricity

Out of all that energy from the sun, how much energy the sun produces accounts for less than .1% of it for electricity

(about 2% of the energy in the United States comes from the sun)

More than any other source, we depend on electricity generated from the combustion of fossil fuels to power heat engines, which in turn rotate electrical turbines. Fossil fuels are matter which once lived on the earth’s surface, absorbed the sun’s radiant energy, died, decomposed, and became integrated into the planet’s metamorphic geology. When fossil fuels are dug up and combusted in the atmosphere, fossilized solar heat energy is released and can be harnessed to do work.

However, this turns out to be a very inefficient use of energy.  The second law of thermodynamics dictates any energy conversion involves an efficiency loss, and heat engines are one of the least efficient ways to convert energy. (Further inefficiencies result from the extraction of fossil fuels and the transport and transmission of that energy to all of us.)

In addition to being inefficient, combusting fossil fuels for energy is also impractical. Fossil fuels are the product of millions of years of undisturbed geologic action. Burning them releases carbon into the atmosphere at a rate which disrupts ecological processes.

wind turbines

solar thermal spain

Luckily, we’ve come up with more direct and efficient means of soaking up solar energy. Huge mirrors concentrate the sun’s rays on a thermal storage agent like water, which in turn generates steam to power turbines. Photovoltaic cells convert photons of sunlight directly into voltage and generate electrical direct current. Radiant solar energy effects movement of atmospheric fluids like air and water. And kinetic energy of moving air or water can then be harnessed to rotate an electrical turbine. Brilliant!

Solar panels, wind farms, and the like are a great solutions for the long term. If you’re wondering how you can avoid the hassle and destruction of old skül energy extraction, you’ve come to the right place. Ask your local installer how you can start harvesting energy directly from our sun.

Last modified: February 28, 2018

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Larry
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Larry

When you think about how much energy the sun sheds onto the earth it’s no wonder global warming is a reality. I bet that all of man’s activities to produce energy from fossil fuels don’t add up to effects of a single day of sunlight.

Michael
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Michael

But we set a greenhouse gas free that traps the energy from the sun so the earth can not get rid of it in the night but the very next day the earth receives the same amount of energy from the sun again. That’s what they talk about in a nutshell

RichMJones
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RichMJones

Seriously it would take week or two to address the physics and some notions in these comments.

Boone
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Boone

Yes, 186,000 miles per second, the speed of light is the fastest thing known. There are other forms of energy that the sun gives off, but the 2 main things are visible light, and infrared light(heat). Coming in 3rd is ultraviolet light(UV rays) which our atmosphere blocks most of it, and a small percentage i can’t remember reaches the ground, and deteriorates everything. I sure am glad that more UV rays dont reach the ground! Scientists have been working on trying to get stuff to go faster that the speed of light for many years, at various places in the… Read more »

Mike Madden
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Mike Madden

In 1974 a friend & I took 4 hits of LSD each & went for a ride. While driving thru an apocalypse, God came to the rescue (at my urgent request), appearing as a bright Light, nearly vaporizing me! He was very nice & helpful. The energy involved was unimaginable. The odometer read 240, but it may have been parsecs. We travelled from Port Edwards to La Crosse & back, in Wisconsin.

8th grader
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8th grader

Dear Dr. Josh Banks i have to disagree with your comment see im only 14 and i already know when mercury and venus will explode. never In the bible it never sys anything about the planets exploding it only says that Christ will come back and bring those who believe in him to heaven

PERSON
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PERSON

you evolutionists are stupid the earth will end when god comes to take me home. go to church

TJ Mackwell
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TJ Mackwell

I think You NEED to actually TRULY connect and understand the “Ulmighty” creator.. The bibles of the world are simply man made propaganda, to control people, for whatever mostly GOOD,, (or Bad) reasons, but are NOT an absolute connection to, or proof of ANY God, or future !

Me
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Me

I say we put the sun out before it’s too late!

Anonymous
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Anonymous

the sun emits unbelievable amounts of energy every 2nd…work out how much energy it will emit in 4.5 billion years and you will have the amount of energy a supernova emits EVERY SECOND! Truly mindblowing ain’t it!?

Student
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Student

In all my studies of the distance between the planets, I think most human beings cannot comprehind the distance between the planets in the milky way galaxy. All the maps I’ve ever seen showing the distance between in planets is not to proportion, but I think whoever designs these maps does this so human beings can conceptualize and comprhend the size of the planets. If you just look at the size of the sun, and the distance between the first planet closest to the sun, the distance between them is unbelievable. What I understand is that we are the third… Read more »

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