It is a renewable energy source. The energy of the Sun is considered inexhaustible on a human scale. Therefore, it is an alternative to other types of non-renewable energy such as fossil fuels or nuclear energy.
Solar energy received on Earth receives is ten thousand times greater than the one that is consumed per day. However, it is distributed in a more or less uniform way over the entire earth's surface, making it difficult to use.
In the United States, there are more than 81.4 gigawatts of solar installed. Over the last decade, solar installed has grown at an average rate of 49% each year.
What Is and How Is It Produced from Solar Energy?
Solar energy is the energy contained in solar radiation. This type of renewable energy is generated through nuclear fusion reactions in the Sun. The radiation travels to Earth through electromagnetic radiation and can later be used.
Solar energy can be used in the form of thermal energy or electrical energy. When it comes to thermal energy we get heat to heat a fluid.
The element in charge of capturing solar radiation and transforming it into useful energy is the solar panel. Solar panels can be of different types depending on the mechanism chosen for the use of solar energy:
Using solar thermal collectors (thermal solar energy)
Without any external element (passive solar energy)
Types of Solar Energy
Currently, there are basically three solar technologies in order to convert sunlight into energy.
Photovoltaic Solar Energy
Photovoltaic solar energy is an energy technology used to produce electricity.
Photovoltaic installations are made up of photovoltaic solar panels. These panels are made up of solar cells that have the virtue of generating an electric current thanks to the Sun.
The electric current generated by the photovoltaic modules can be used to supply electricity in autonomous installations. It can also be used to supply it directly to the electricity grid.
Solar Thermal Energy
Thermal solar energy can also be called solar thermal. This type of energy is another very habitual and economic use form. Its operation is based on the use of solar radiation to heat water through solar collectors.
Solar collectors increase the temperature of the fluid by increasing its internal energy. In this way, it is easy to transport the generated thermal energy and use it where it is needed. A common use of this type of energy is to obtain domestic hot water or for heating in a residential solar.
Concentrating Solar Power
There are large-scale solar thermal power plants that use this technique to subject water to high temperatures. Afterward, it is converted into steam. This steam is used to power steam turbines and generate electricity.
Passive Solar Energy
Passive systems take advantage of solar radiation without the use of any intermediate device or apparatus. This technique is done through the proper location, design, and orientation of the buildings. It does not need panel installation.
The objective is to correctly use the properties of the materials and their architectural elements:
Type of covers
By applying bioclimatic architecture criteria, the need to air-condition buildings and illuminate them can be reduced.
Passive solar energy is the oldest method of harnessing solar radiation. It is the method that ancient cultures already used as explained in the history of solar energy.