No, Solar Panels Will Not Drain The Sun's Energy

Natanael-siqueira, via Wikimedia Commons.

An article has been circulating on the net for the last few days, released by National Report, entitled “Solar Panels Drain the Sun’s Energy, Experts Say.” While at first glance it might look genuine because it includes the names of institutions and quotes, the National Report is a satirical website and the article is not true in any way, shape or form. 

So, according to the article, solar panels don’t just capture the Sun’s energy but actually physically drain it of energy. This, according to the article, could cause a man-made disaster unfathomable by most. A quote from the article: “If every home in the world had solar panels on their roofs, global temperatures would drop by as much as thirty degrees over 20 years, and the Sun could die out within three hundred to four hundred years.” Again, National Report is a satirical website.

Solar panels are not like a vacuum cleaner- they can’t physically suck out the Sun’s energy. The Sun consistently emits solar radiation, regardless of whether we use it or not. It isn’t a feedback system whereby our actions can alter the amount released. It’s a system that we tap into for our benefit; we have no influence over it.

Just to give you an idea of how little energy we use compared to what is produced, the Sun puts out 3.8 x 1026 Watts, or Joules per second. The Earth’s population consumes around 15 terawatts of power (one terawatt is 1012 Watts, so this would be 1.5 x 1013 in total). So that’s 380,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 compared with 15,000,000,000,000. But that is still irrelevant because we don’t physically drain it anyway. The Sun is a finite source of energy; it will burn out one day, but that’s not going to happen for a very, very long time (5 or so billion years). So don’t get your knickers in a twist just yet - we’ll be fine. 

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