The term solar energy refers to the use of the 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 takes 5 billion years emitting solar radiation and it is estimated 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 per day in the entire planet. The received radiation is distributed in a more or less uniform manner over the entire surface of the Earth, which makes it harder to use it.
Definition of solar energy
Solar energy is the energy contained in the solar radiation that is transformed by means of the corresponding devices, in the form of thermal energy or electrical energy, for its later consumption where it is needed.
The element responsible for 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 thermal solar collectors (solar thermal energy)
- Through photovoltaic modules (photovoltaic solar energy)
- Without any external element ( passive solar energy)
Types solar energy
Currently there are basically three ways to take advantage of solar energy.
- Passive solar energy.
- Photovoltaic solar energy.
- Solar thermal energy.
Passive solar energy is the oldest method of harnessing solar radiation. This is the method already used by ancient cultures as explained in the history of solar energy. This system consists of taking advantage of solar radiation without the use of any intermediate device or device, by means of the appropriate location, design and orientation of the buildings, correctly using the properties of the materials and the architectural elements of the same: insulation, type of roofing , protections, etc. Applying criteria of bioclimatic architecture can significantly reduce the need to air-condition buildings and illuminate them.
Photovoltaic solar energy takes advantage of the photovoltaic effect to generate an electric current. The current generated by solar panels is direct current, which treated correctly (converting it into alternating current), can be used to supply electricity in autonomous facilities or can be used to supply (sell) directly to the electricity grid.
Another very usual and economical way to use it is solar thermal energy. Its operation is based on the use of solar radiation to heat water through solar collectors. The 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 when it is needed: it can be used to obtain hot sanitary water or to heat a home.
Energies derived from solar energy
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 generated this wind? The Sun, when heating the air from the surface generates air currents. The hot air rises and its place is occupied by another mass of air 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 operate turbines. But how does the water go up there? The Sun, when heating the water, evaporates forming the clouds. Once the water condenses, it will fall back to feed rivers and swamps and restart the turbines.
Even in non-renewable energies such as coal and oil, solar energy has some 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 were once fed by the Sun through photosynthesis.
About this site
The purpose of this site is to disseminate 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 go too far in technical aspects but it does give a certain basis of physics to understand the concepts. For this reason we have created sections of 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 inform and inform about the operation and the different techniques of solar energy use.
The only financing of this project is generated by the publicity published on the website, which allows us to cover the maintenance costs of the site itself (web server, programming, etc.)