The term solar energy refers to the use of energy that comes from the Sun. It is a type of renewable energy. The energy contained in the Sun is so abundant that it is considered inexhaustible. The Sun has been emitting solar radiation for 5 billion years and it is calculated that it has not yet reached 50% of its existence.
Solar energy, in addition to being inexhaustible, is abundant: the amount of energy that the Sun pours daily on Earth is ten thousand times greater than that consumed daily throughout the planet. The received radiation is distributed in a more or less uniform way over the entire terrestrial surface, making it difficult to use.
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. Radiation travels to Earth using electromagnetic waves and can then be used.
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)
- Using photovoltaic modules ( photovoltaic solar energy)
- Without any external element ( passive solar energy)
Types of solar energy
Currently there are basically three ways to harness solar energy.
- Photovoltaic solar energy.
- Thermal solar energy.
- Passive solar energy.
Photovoltaic Solar Energy
Photovoltaic solar energy takes advantage of the photovoltaic effect to generate an electric current. The current generated by the solar panels is direct current that can be transformed into direct current through a current inverter.
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 thermal energy generated and use it wherever it is needed: it can be used to obtain domestic hot water or for heating a home.
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. The objective is to correctly use the properties of the materials and their architectural elements:
- Type of covers
- Protections, etc.
Passive solar energy is the oldest method of harnessing solar radiation. This is the method that ancient cultures already used as explained in the history of solar energy.
What other energy sources depend on the Sun?
Most energy systems are derived from solar energy. Within renewable energies, for example, wind energy is the energy obtained from the wind. But how is this wind generated? The Sun, by heating the air on the surface, generates air currents. The hot air rises and its place is occupied by another air mass that was around it. This movement causes the wind.
In the case of hydraulic energy, the potential energy of the water is used when falling from a high place to drive some turbines. But how does the water go up there? The Sun, when heating the water, evaporates forming the clouds. Once it condenses, the water will fall again to feed rivers and swamps and restart the turbines.
Even in non-renewable energy such as coal and oil, solar energy has a certain influence. Fossil fuels are the result of a long process of transformation of millions of years of plants and organic compounds. These plants and organisms, in their day, were fed by the Sun through photosynthesis.
About this site
The objective of this site is to spread general aspects about solar energy. The operation of the elements of the solar installations is explained in a simplified way on the web. It does not delve too deeply into technical aspects, but it does provide a certain physics base to understand the concepts. For this reason we have created sections on thermodynamics, units of measurement, etc.
The creators and administrators of this website are not part of any association or company directly related to solar energy. Our purpose is to publicize and inform about the operation and the different techniques for using solar energy.
The only financing for this project is generated by the advertising published on the website, which allows us to defray the costs of maintaining the site itself (web server, programming, etc.)