As the name indicates, solar energy is energy derived from solar rays. This type of renewable energy is one of the most abundant sources of electromagnetic energy that naturally reaches the planet Earth. Collection systems frequently use it to generate heat or electrical energy without negatively impacting the environment.
Solar energy is made up of solar radiation in the form of ultraviolet rays, visible light, and other forms of electromagnetic energy produced due to the physicochemical reactions that occur on the sun’s surface. When this energy is discharged into space and reaches the earth’s surface, people may catch it using technology such as photovoltaic cells, solar panels, and others.
Harnessing the sun’s energy is not new to humanity. Since ancient times, it has been employed by civilization for such fundamental activities as drying materials such as textiles, skins, and others. However, it has also enabled more commercial applications like the generation of fire and even heat.
This type of energy is distinguished because it is derived from an infinite source, which is why new technologies in the energy business are increasingly focused on harvesting solar energy to generate electricity on a grander scale.
Examples of Solar Energy with Pictures
Here are some instances of solar energy that will help you understand how this sort of energy works.
Greenhouses are buildings that can capture and keep the sun’s energy within an enclosed environment.
They are commonly used in agriculture to offer an appropriate temperature for plant development.
Although they are not frequently utilized, solar ovens are critical for many people that do not have regular access to power.
The heat that permits cooking and heating food comes from the sun’s energy, which is maintained within the oven to keep the temperature high for as long as necessary.
Many electronic products utilize tiny photovoltaic cells to power their internal batteries by gathering solar energy.
Many calculators have this technology, but more and more electronic equipment is incorporated with solar charging peripherals or components.
Solar Water Heaters
Solar energy is used to heat water in home and industrial applications.
This avoids the extensive use of electrical energy required to heat the water and burn fossil fuels or organic materials to create heat.
Solar Thermal Power Plants
Solar thermal power plants are another example of how this energy is utilized.
These systems utilize the heat produced by solar energy to turn water into steam.
This steam is sent via a turbine to produce motion and, as a result, power an alternator capable of producing alternating electricity.
How is Solar Energy created?
When we talk about solar energy, we are talking about the energy captured by solar panels and other equipment capable of converting the sun’s electromagnetic radiation into electrical energy. Thus, solar thermal energy is generated due to the thermodynamic process that converts the sun’s electromagnetic waves into heat, which is then retained in solar receivers of any type and transformed into electricity.
Solar energy is a sort of electromagnetic energy; its features are well understood, allowing us to understand how it operates. Solar energy is derived from the sun, which transfers energy in electromagnetic waves that travel through space until they reach the planet.
This energy is caught by the surface of solar panels or any other element capable of converting electromagnetic energy into heat (solar thermal energy) or electricity to become solar energy itself (solar photovoltaic energy). In contrast, solar photovoltaic energy is generated by special semiconductors capable of converting photons into electricity.
Transformation into solar thermal energy: This sort of energy is created when electromagnetic energy from the sun comes into touch with an item capable of keeping this energy in the form of heat. This process occurs spontaneously due to the material’s particles being agitated. This heat is frequently utilized to create heat, heat water and can be incorporated in electric power producing systems.
Transformation into photovoltaic energy: As in the previous scenario, electromagnetic energy comes into contact with particular semiconductor panels capable of creating a potential difference when a photon (electromagnetic particle) meets its surface. This potential difference is what enables the creation of electrical energy.
Several sorts of solar energy are based on how the sun’s energy is harnessed to generate power. These are listed below:
Solar Thermal Energy
This sort of solar energy is used to heat water for personal or residential usage using the sun’s heat.
Solar Photovoltaic Energy
Photovoltaic solar energy is possibly the most crucial type of solar energy. The energy gathered in solar radiation is utilized to create electricity. Semiconductor panels or other specialized devices are employed to make this feasible.
It should be emphasized that photovoltaic solar energy is the most sophisticated and widely used kind of solar energy.
Hybrid Thermoelectric Power Plant
As the name implies, hybrid solar energy produces electricity using more than one energy source. A hybrid thermoelectric power plant, which uses both solar energy and the combustion of fossil fuels to generate electricity, is an example of this.
Concentrated Solar Thermal Power
This solar thermal energy works by focusing all of the sun’s energy in a small area to create high-intensity heat. Mirror panels are employed To accomplish this, which reflect the energy towards the location of the main panel.
Wind and Solar Energy
Solar wind energy generates power by capturing sun-heated air. It is one of the most recent forms of solar energy.
Solar energy has numerous essential applications in modern civilization, some of which are noted below:
- In the creation of electrical energy in the form of photovoltaic solar energy.
- Solar energy creates heat using systems that catch solar thermal energy and route it to underfloor heating systems or other heating equipment for household or industrial usage.
- Many plants worldwide employ this technique to provide clean and ecologically friendly electricity.
- In the form of sunshine, the sun’s energy provides us with natural illumination throughout the day.
- It enables charging the batteries of electronic devices such as telephones, tablets, calculators, and others using tiny photovoltaic cells.
- It is used to heat meals without using microwave ovens or natural gas.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Solar energy has several advantages that should be highlighted; nevertheless, it also has a lot of restrictions in the form of disadvantages.
- Because solar energy is renewable energy, its usage and exploitation do not deplete the planet’s renewable resources.
- Because solar energy does not involve fossil fuels, it does not produce damaging byproducts.
- It is derived from a free energy source, as the electromagnetic waves that provide heat and light to planet Earth are emitted by the sun.
- It enables the generation of various forms of energy, such as electrical and thermal energy, which are critical to contemporary life.
- The installation of solar equipment in homes often has a high efficiency for energy generation and heating, which considerably decreases the expenses of traditional energy consumption.
- It allows rural communities and small towns distant from power plants to generate their electricity using solar panels.
- The initial expenditure for solar energy equipment is often considerable.
- Extensive tracts of land are necessary to create large amounts of electrical energy, as installing solar panels necessitates direct exposure to the sun.
- It is intermittent because it is affected by the weather, the season, and the sun’s location. Furthermore, it is not practical to harvest solar energy at night.
- Although it is very efficient in power production, it does not equal the efficiency of other kinds of energy such as hydroelectric or thermoelectric.
- There are considerable constraints to storing vast amounts of solar energy.
- It is not cost-effective in overcast places with no extended solar exposure.
Mathematical Formula of Solar Energy
The amount of solar energy that can be collected in the form of solar thermal energy is estimated using the formula as follows:
Q = k*t*S
Q = amount of heat in cal.
k = Coefficient of solar radiation in lime
t = amount of time spent in direct sunlight in minutes.
S = the exposed surface area in cm2.