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Solar Panels Soaking UP Energy From the Sun

muleferg

Active Member
Dec 15, 2013
1,454
745
North Wilkesboro, NC
I'M Guilty.


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NORTHAMPTON COUNTY


Woodland becomes butt of social media after anti-solar remarks

Story goes viral after local residents make outlandish anti-solar claims Woodland officials then barraged by hate mail Town officials say the Internet missed an important piece of the story


BY JOHN MURAWSKI [email protected]
Usually what happens in Woodland stays in Woodland, a town 115 miles east of Raleigh with one Dollar General store and one restaurant.
But news of the Northampton County hamlet’s moratorium on solar farms blew up on social media over the weekend after a local paper quoted a resident complaining to the Town Council that solar farms would take away sunshine from nearby vegetation. Another resident warned that solar panels would suck up energy from the sun.
 

Max*

Charging
Apr 8, 2015
6,670
3,719
NoVa
That article was hilarious. There's also a science teacher claiming that solar panels kill plants/grass/trees.
 

austinEV

Supporting Member
May 16, 2013
3,231
7,352
Austin
Well, solar panels DO suck up energy from the sun, it's just not something you need to worry about.

Thought experiment: Does a very large theoretical coverage have a macro change to the earth? Like if 50% of land was covered with panels, lowering the albedo would the earth in theory warm? In particular since this vast electricty would have to go somewhere, and that somewhere is almost all heat loss eventually. What is the small net change of the earth's heat cycle?
 

Saghost

Well-Known Member
Oct 9, 2013
8,217
7,007
Delaware
Well, solar panels DO suck up energy from the sun, it's just not something you need to worry about.

Thought experiment: Does a very large theoretical coverage have a macro change to the earth? Like if 50% of land was covered with panels, lowering the albedo would the earth in theory warm? In particular since this vast electricty would have to go somewhere, and that somewhere is almost all heat loss eventually. What is the small net change of the earth's heat cycle?

I can't see it having a major impact - as you say, nearly all that energy ends up as heat before long anyway (some ends up as chemical potential energy we don't plan to reclaim any time soon, like in aluminum refining.)

To my mind, the opposite effect seems more likely at extreme macro scales - plants all reflect infrared to stay cooler, solar panels absorb it. If we displace a lot of trees with solar panels, we presumably absorb more energy at ground level as heat...
 

austinEV

Supporting Member
May 16, 2013
3,231
7,352
Austin
I can't see it having a major impact - as you say, nearly all that energy ends up as heat before long anyway (some ends up as chemical potential energy we don't plan to reclaim any time soon, like in aluminum refining.)

To my mind, the opposite effect seems more likely at extreme macro scales - plants all reflect infrared to stay cooler, solar panels absorb it. If we displace a lot of trees with solar panels, we presumably absorb more energy at ground level as heat...

I like your theory. Yet another reason to support solar, though the magnitude of the effect might be too small to measure. On the other hand, if we crack cheap fusion tomorrow we *would* suddenly have a heat issue, since all that cheap fusion energy would end up as waste heat. It wouldn't be an issue at first, but dramatically cheaper and more ubiquitous power would cause new applications we can't imagine.
 

lolachampcar

Well-Known Member
Nov 26, 2012
5,158
2,432
WPB Florida
austin,
My version of the thought experiment you suggest went directly to the carbon that remained sequestered when I made that electricity using solar :) In my version, we are much better off even though the net/net of panel to electricity back to heat is the same.
 

deonb

Active Member
Mar 4, 2013
4,057
4,208
Redmond, WA
What about all those Europeans that soak up some sun during summers in the French Riviera?? It's high time the EU does something about them too!
 

austinEV

Supporting Member
May 16, 2013
3,231
7,352
Austin
What about all those Europeans that soak up some sun during summers in the French Riviera?? It's high time the EU does something about them too!

That problem solves itself. You introduce some bright white Britons which increases the Beach' albedo, reflecting light that would have otherwise been absorbed by the sand.
 

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