SOLAR ENERGY — THE ENERGY OF THE FUTURE?About 47 per cent of the energy that the sun releases to the earth actually reaches the ground. About a third isreflected directly back into space by the atmosphere. Thetime in which solar energy is available, is also the time weleast need it least – daytime. Because the sun’s energycannot be stored for use another time, we need to convertthe suns energy into an energy that can be stored.One possible method of storing solar energy is byheating water that can be insulated. The water is heated bypassing it through hollow panels. Black-coated steal platesare used because dark colours absorb heat more efficiently.However this method only supplies enough energy foractivities such as washing and bathing. The solar panelsgenerate “low grade” heat, that is, they generate lowtemperatures for the amount of heat needed in a day.In order to generate “high grade” heat, intense enoughto convert water into high-pressure steam which can then beused to turn electric generators there must be anothermethod. The concentrated beams of sunlight are collected ina device called a solar furnace, which acts on the sameprinciples as a large magnifying glass. The solar furnacetakes the sunlight from a large area and by the use oflenses and mirrors can focus the light into a very smallarea. Very elaborate solar furnaces have machines thatangle the mirrors and lenses to the sun all day. Thissystem can provide sizeable amounts of electricity andcreate extremely high temperatures of over 6000 degreesFahrenheit.Solar energy generators are very clean, little waste isemitted from the generators into the environment. The useof coal, oil and gasoline is a constant drain, economicallyand environmentally.Will solar energy be the wave of the future? Could theworlds requirement of energy be fulfilled by the”powerhouse” of our galaxy – the sun? Automobiles in thefuture will probably run on solar energy, and houses willhave solar heaters.