Panels photovoltaic solar energy

Installation of thermal solar energy

Solar power plant

Active solar energy

Active solar energy

Active solar energy classifies technologies related to the use of solar energy that use mechanical or electrical equipment to improve performance or to process the energy obtained by converting it into electrical or mechanical energy. These equipments can be fans, water pumps, etc.

In contrast, solar systems that do not use these devices are classified as passive solar energy systems.

Examples of active solar energy

The applications of active solar energy can be classified into two types:

  • Thermal solar energy
  • Photovoltaic Solar Energy

Solar thermal energy

Thermal solar energy takes advantage of the properties of thermodynamics to increase the temperature of a fluid by increasing its heat energy and, therefore, its entropy. In this form of use of solar energy, no electricity is generated.

Sanitary hot water systems that are not based on the thermosyphon system use water pumps and fans to circulate the water inside their circuits. For this reason, these systems would be classified as active solar energy. In contrast, solar water systems that use thermosyphon, the circulation of water is made by the difference of densities between hot water and cold water do not need external mechanisms and, therefore, are classified as passive solar energy systems.

Most solar collectors are placed on fixed supports with a calculated orientation so that they can capture the greatest amount of solar radiation during the day and during the year. But these collectors would be more efficient if they could modify their orientation with respect to the Sun depending on the day of the year and the time of day.

There are systems to modify the orientation of solar collectors. In case these systems are mechanical it would be active solar energy systems.

Photovoltaic solar energy

Photovoltaic solar energy is clearly an active solar energy system. Thanks to the photovoltaic effect, photovoltaic panels can generate electricity that will later pass through transformers and other external elements.

As in solar thermal energy, solar panels can be oriented by a small electric motor to orient them more efficiently towards the Sun. This motor would be another external element.

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Last review: April 20, 2017