As the solar wind streams toward Earth, it carries the Sun’s magnetic field. Moving very fast, it hits into the Earth’s magnetic field, causing a shock to our magnetic protection, which results in turbulence.

Solar Wind Could Replace Solar Energy
Solar Wind Could Replace Solar Energy

Article from | Len Calderone

Solar energy is radiant light and heat from the Sun that is controlled utilizing an assortment of technologies such as solar heating, photovoltaics, solar thermal energy, solar architecture, molten salt power plants and artificial photosynthesis. The growth of affordable, unlimited and clean solar energy technologies will have huge long-term benefits. It will enhance a country’s energy security through dependance on an original, unlimited, and independent resource.

The sun's outer layer attains temperatures of up to 2 million degrees Fahrenheit.  At this temperature, the sun's gravity can't contain the rapidly moving particles, and they stream away from the sun. This is known as solar wind.

The velocity of the solar wind is higher over coronal holes. Coronal holes are areas where the Sun 's corona is colder, and has lower-density plasma than average because there is lower energy and gas levels. Coronal holes are part of the Sun's corona and are continuously changing and restructuring because the corona is not consistent.

Solar winds can reach speeds of up to 500 miles per second. The temperature and intensity over coronal holes are low, and the magnetic field is weak. This allows the field lines to be open to space. These holes can be found at the poles and low latitudes, becoming largest when the activity on the sun is at its minimum. Temperatures in the fast wind can reach up to 1 million F.

Solar radiation is captured by the Earth's land surface, oceans and atmosphere. Sunlight, which is absorbed by the oceans and land maintains the surface of the earth at an average temperature of 57 °F. This energy is more in one hour than the world uses in one year. The amount of solar energy reaching the surface of the Earth is so immense that in one year it is twice as much as we will ever get from all of the Earth's non-renewable resources, such as coal, oil, natural gas, and mined uranium combined.

The corona is home to the continually expanding solar wind. The Parker Solar Probe is orbiting the Sun and is gathering data about the solar particles and magnetic fields that comprise the solar wind. Two of its foremost goals are to examine the energy that heats the corona and speeds up the solar wind, and to ascertain the configuration of the wind’s magnetic fields.

Image: Spaceplace.nasa.gov

 

As the solar wind streams toward Earth, it carries the Sun’s magnetic field. Moving very fast, it hits into the Earth’s magnetic field, causing a shock to our magnetic protection, which results in turbulence.

Energy from solar winds could replace established forms of renewable energy produced on Earth such as solar, wind and biofuel. Scientists speculate that a massive solar sail, fabricated to harness solar winds, could generate 1 billion gigawatts of electricity. The problem is how to get the energy from space to Earth, and the fact that the solar sail would have to be 5,000 miles wide.

A solar wind sail would point a .4-inch-wide copper wire affixed to the sail at the sun. This wire would generate a magnetic field that captures electrons found in solar winds. These particles are channeled into a spherical receiver, which would then produce a current.

The massive quantities of energy that the sail produces would be transferred to collectors on space stations, satellites, moon bases or the Earth by means of intense infrared laser beams. A system of satellites could be positioned to send the energy from the solar sail back to collectors on Earth. 

Image: NASA

The structure of the solar wind moves from two-distinct systems. It is fast at the poles and slow at the equator. As the solar cycle progresses toward its maximum, it becomes a nonuniform flow.

The slow solar wind hinges between what’s known as the closed and open corona. The closed corona represents regions of the Sun where its magnetic field lines are closed. By closed, we mean that both ends of the stream connects back to the Sun—like a dome. The plasma travels along the closed loops and is confined to the area near the Sun.

An open corona refers to regions where the magnetic field lines anchor to the Sun at only one end. The other end stretches out into space, creating a highway for solar material to escape into space. We find open fields at the Coronal holes.

Slow solar winds leave the solar corona, flowing on open magnetic field lines. That is the way they get so far from the Sun. Scientists still do not know if solar winds start from the corona or switch from closed field lines to open field lines. An expansion factor theory claims that the slow solar wind originates on open field lines, just like the fast wind. The slow speed results from the expanding path the wind takes on its way out of the corona. Plasma moving along these broadening magnetic paths slows down, forming the slow wind.

There are theories that assert the slow solar wind originates on closed field lines but later shifts to open field lines.  The thought is that the slow wind forms when the open field lines from coronal holes bump into the closed field lines at the edge of the dome, thereby explosively rewiring themselves in an occurrence called magnetic reconnection. The plasma, which was on the streamer’s closed field lines suddenly finds itself on an open field line, where it escapes into space.

Earth's atmosphere absorbs and reflects some of the Sun's light, so solar cells above the atmosphere will collect more sunlight and generate more energy. A major challenge will be transmitting the power back to Earth. The strategy at this time is to convert electricity from the solar cells into energy waves. Then, we would use electromagnetic fields to transfer the energy waves down to an antenna on the Earth's surface. The antenna would then switch the energy waves back into electricity.

Around the world, the scientific community is devoting significant time and effort to the advancement of solar power stations in space. Hopefully, one day solar wind will be a vital means in our fight against climate change. Solar wind power will satisfy all of the energy requirements of mankind.   

 

The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag

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