Solar flares are beautiful, dangerous, powerful, and potentially a massive source of energy that is yet to be harnessed.
Solar flares give off enormous amounts of radiation. So much, in fact, that is the star nearest to us (not our Sun) were to have a massive solar flare in our solar system’s direction, our Earth could possibly lose its atmosphere. That’s right. The star is light years away but still powerful enough to affect us.
Ions are released at nearly the speed of light when a solar flare erupts from the Sun’s surface. Earth would be inhabitable if we didn’t have an atmosphere to nearly completely shield us from this Solar activity. We see this danger when astronauts go into space. Mission control back in NASA has to do their absolute best to watch for any solar activity. Such a flare in the direction of these astronauts could be incredibly dangerous, if not fatal.
One benefit of a solar flare is that it causes solar wind, which is a form of usable energy. Technology is currently being developed that would allow us to gather and harness this energy in space, miles away from Earth’s atmosphere, than send it back to Earth. In this situation we have nearly no need to continue planting wind farms for energy. Unlike solar fountains, as clean as they are, they take up space. A wind farm out in space would be the most ideal area to continue our clean energy project.
Along with these solar winds, solar flares can also be used for the bright light energy that they create, as well as the Sun’s normal light. The Sun at this point is essentially our largest untapped energy reserve that is entirely free and safe. The sun will be around long after human beings have left their five towns real estate, and even the planet Earth. Setting up solar panels to store the energy from this sunlight is something we are already doing on Earth. The only problem is we aren’t doing it fast enough. Solar energy is completely green and efficient. More countries, more companies, and more people need to start using this form of energy.
Solar flares can be dangerous and life threatening, but ultimately they can be harnessed for the benefit of mankind. If we show some respect to nature and be careful we can learn to use this great energy source.
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We’re not even close
In 2012, total world energy consumption was 553 exajoules (553×1018 J=153,611 TWh), equivalent to an average power consumption of 17.54 TW (or 0.724 on Sagan’s Kardashev scale).