Ignorance is a very, very bad thing. Last week, as North America suffering from extreme cold weather because of a phenomenon called “polar vortex“, Jim Hoft, founder of the American far-right news and opinion website The Gateway Pundit has tweeted that: “It’s a bit cold outside this morning in middle America… Aren’t you glad you aren’t heating your home with a solar panel like nitwit socialist @AOC is demanding?” (@AOC is the American politician and activist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez here.) What Jim Hoft says is flat-out wrong. Solar panels DO work in the cold. They work by absorbing LIGHT from the sun, not heat.
In fact, solar panels are more efficient at cooler temperatures. Furthermore, white snow can act like a mirror to reflect more light on them.
You’re likely to produce less energy in the winter months, but that’s not because of the cold – it’s because the days are a bit shorter, especially in the northern latitudes.
NASA has put a few rovers and landers on Mars in recent decades, and they were all solar-powered (with the exception of Curiosity rover – which uses an RTG – a Radioisotope Thermal Generator, which converts the heat from a decaying 5-kg slug of plutonium into electricity using Peltier devices). And Mars is an extremely cold place with an average temperature of -63 °C (210 K; −81 °F). Actual temperature measurements at the Viking landers’ site range from −17.2 °C (256.0 K; 1.0 °F) to −107 °C (166 K; −161 °F).
What’s depressing is that this guy has a big reach on social media. So many people are getting misinformed by nonsense like this.
How do solar panels work?
- Solar Panel on Wikipedia