Solar energy is a renewable resource provided by the Sun. The Sun is the great star of our Solar System with 1.4 million kilometers in diameter, it is formed by a series of hot gases, the most abundant are: hydrogen 71% and helium 21%. These gases are converted into energy in the core of the Sun and this energy that is generated is released from the interior of the Sun to the Solar System in the form of light and heat. The light and heat that are released by the Sun are the energy that reaches the Earth and makes life possible on it. In addition to making life on Earth possible, this solar energy that reaches us is given different uses or exploitation. Knowing this, it is convenient to know better how solar energy is produced. As mentioned above, solar radiation reaches Earth in the form of light and heat,solar panels through different collectors (photocells, heliostats or solar collectors), once the energy is captured, it is transformed into thermal or electrical energy.
Types of solar energy
Solar energy is gaining ground globally, leaving other types of energy on the sidelines, such as those that come from fossil fuels (oil, gas or coal). If you do a little research on the Internet, we can find several rankings where the main solar energy producing countries appear. The ten that produce this energy are: China, the United States, Japan, India, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, France, Australia and Pakistan.
The two most used types of solar energy that we find are:
- Thermal solar energy.
- Photovoltaic Solar Energy.
- Bioclimatic energy, a newer type of renewable energy .
The advantages of solar energy with respect to other energies are basically that it is a very clean and inexhaustible energy. The disadvantage is its discontinuity, since this energy depends on the weather, and the visual impact generated by the fields of panels or solar panels .
Solar thermal energy is what is used to provide heat , for example, for the use of heating or heating water. The uses of photovoltaic solar energy are to provide electricity , to achieve this the solar radiation is converted through the photovoltaic panels into electricity. Bioclimatic energy consists of the use of solar energy in construction , for example, the greater use of natural light, but for this, the climate conditions of the place where the new building is to be produced must be taken into account.
The following list shows what solar energy is for and, in general, the uses it can have:
- Bioclimatic architecture.
- Production of domestic hot water (DHW).
- Pool and spa water heating.
- Wearable technology.
It is one of the most recent uses regarding the production of electricity, lighting or water heating . It is based on the construction and design of buildings and homes in such a way that it allows to take advantage of natural light and solar energy so that the windows and walls can capture and store energy in order to distribute it in the form of heat in cold times. and so that it can reject this energy in times of heat. The use of natural solar energy provided by bioclimatic architecture is free of electrical and mechanical devices.
It is one of the best known uses by all. It is thanks to photovoltaic solar panels , which are responsible for transforming solar energy into electricity , that we can give it the use we want in our homes, from charging a mobile phone to putting a washing machine. For the use of this electricity , the capacity of the system we have installed must be taken into account. This energy can be stored in batteries giving the possibility of having electric current in cloudy periods.
It is one of the best known uses of solar energy , since it is increasingly common to see lights with a small solar energy collector . It is used to illuminate exteriors , such as paths, trails and highways, without the need for a power line. This is possible since the different lighting points have a small plate that captures solar energy during the day, stores it and when night comes it makes use of this stored energy by providing light.
Production of domestic hot water (DHW)
The sanitary water , also known as water hands need to be disinfected and 45 ° C to be used for this purpose and is easy to carry the water at this temperature with solar heat . These thermal panels are not only seen in houses that have been recently built, but also in homes already built previously in which a replacement is made in the facilities, this replacement allows significant economic savings to both homes and companies.
Solar energy is captured and transformed into thermal energy . This use is valid both for the production of hot air in winter and cold in summer. It allows a strong energy saving of 70% and, consequently, also an economic saving. We can find two systems:
- Active system: which makes use of pumps to circulate hot water to transfer heat.
- Passive system: the natural circulation of water is used.
Water heating, swimming pools and spas
Thermal energy obtained from solar energy is used to heat water . This is an increasingly common use in places where sunny weather is predominant, such as Spain or Latin America. This practice means significant economic savings in electricity or gas in homes, in addition to allowing the duration of the bath in the pools, whether indoor or outdoor.
Solar powered electric transportation
Solar-powered transport is still under development, but it is already being applied, especially to buses, railways, electric cars, and roads that can be powered by sunlight. This is achieved through photovoltaic energy . If this development with photovoltaic energy were to give good results, it would help in a very important way to reduce pollution in urban centers.
Because the optimization of water is increasingly important, solar energy can be used, which is a good ally since by installing pumps that work with solar energy, it allows farmers to regulate irrigation and, therefore , a good optimization of this. This practice for saving water that can mean a small respite to the water reserves or aquifers depending on where it comes from.
Nowadays, it is very common to carry smart devices, not only a mobile phone, but also other devices such as tablets, smart watches or electronic books. This has led to the manufacture of solar batteries capable of charging these devices or devices that charge themselves with being exposed to sunlight , we can find from a dryer or radio to a wireless speaker and a tablet. In addition, it now also applies to what is known as wearable technology , such as smart watches that are charged with sunlight or smart glasses that are charged in the same way.