Panels photovoltaic solar energy

What Is Active Solar Energy?

Active solar energy is a system that uses mechanical or electrical equipment to improve the performance of solar panels. These mechanisms are also used to process the energy obtained and obtain electrical or mechanical energy. These elements can be fans to circulate hot air, water pumps, solar trackers, etc.

What is active solar energy?

In contrast, solar systems that do not use these devices are classified as passive solar power systems. Passive solar energy takes advantage of solar radiation directly.

Solar trackers are often used to improve the performance of converting the Sun's energy. Thanks to the trackers, the panels remain optimally oriented to the Sun.

Types of Active Solar Power

Active solar energy systems can be photovoltaic (PV) and thermal.

Thermal Solar Energy

Solar thermal energy takes advantage of solar radiation directly to obtain heat. In general, this type of energy is used for the supply of domestic hot water. However, solar thermal power plants use this solar technology to generate electricity - so-called solar concentrators.

Domestic Hot Water and Active Solar Heating

Domestic hot water systems (DHW) have the goal to heat water or drive heating systems. Those systems without thermosiphon use water pumps and other elements to circulate the water within their circuits.

What is active solar energy?In systems with a thermosyphon, the water circulation is carried out by the difference in density between hot and cold water.

The Angle of Solar Collectors

Most of the solar collectors are flat plates placed on fixed supports. The angle is calculated so that they can capture the most significant amount of radiation at all times. But these collectors would be more efficient if they could change their orientation to the Sun at all times.

Concentrating Solar Energy

In the case of concentrated solar energy, it is necessary to install solar tracking systems. This type of installation needs to focus on the solar radiation received at one point. In this sense, the mirrors have to adapt their inclination to the position of the Sun.

The function of this type of system is used in solar thermal power plants to generate electricity.

Photovoltaic Solar Energy

Active solar photovoltaic energy is an active system. Photovoltaic panels are responsible for generating electricity.

The generated energy by this active solar system then goes through transformers and other external elements.

These facilities are often converted into hybrid solar power plants. A hybrid solar system is a solar system that has energy support from other energy sources. In this case, the energy source can be an electric generator or other renewable energy sources such as wind power.

Differences Between Active and Passive Solar Energy

Active solar thermal energy can have higher solar savings fractions than passive systems due to better heat transfer and transport.

An exciting hybrid method is to use a solar panel to operate pumps or fans. A data analysis using heat thermodynamics software can be used to compare the results of various active and passive solar strategies.

Passive solar systems use techniques such as air collectors that do not require additional energy to operate. Thus, they do not have any maintenance costs. Also, they do not emit greenhouse gases, so they do not contribute to worsening climate change.


Published: April 20, 2017
Last review: April 10, 2021