Solar energy is a type of renewable or clean energy that provides the sun due to its electromagnetic radiation (mainly light, heat and ultraviolet rays) and heat and electricity can be generated.
It is produced by sunlight to generate electricity – photovoltaic energy – or by the heat of the sun to generate heat thermal solar. It is obtained by means of panels and mirrors.
The sun produces energy in two ways:
Provides heat that is used by means of mirrors so that the sun’s rays are concentrated in a receiver that reaches temperatures of up to 1,000 ° C. Heat is used to heat a fluid that generates steam. The steam finally moves a turbine and produces electricity.
Provides light that is converted to electricity through photovoltaic solar panels. Photovoltaic panels are formed by groups of cells or solar cells that transform light (photons) into electrical energy (electrons).
Why is it a type of renewable energy?
Renewable energy is that energy that comes from practically inexhaustible natural sources, such as water, wind, and sun. They are considered as such, due to a large amount of energy they contain or to regenerate naturally.
This type of energy does not emit greenhouse gases or other harmful emissions to the environment such as CO2, which is the case with non-renewable energies such as fossil fuels – carbon, petroleum, and natural gas – or nuclear energy.
Solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower, tidal power and biomass energy are considered renewable or “clean” energies because they are a more favorable alternative to the environment due to their low generation of waste.
Benefits of solar energy
It emerges as a new alternative of responsible energy consumption with the environment, given the impact generated by non-renewable energy.
Among its benefits are:
- It is renewable
- It’s an unlimited source of energy.
- It is the cleanest source of energy and does not endanger or increase global warming because it does not produce greenhouse gases or hazardous by-products for the environment.
- It has a low cost of use, after the initial investment in the manufacture of the components and the installation, which can be more expensive.
- It can produce clean energy that is more economical than the one that is acquired through the network.
- It is available throughout the planet, making it the best way to provide electricity to isolated locations, where the cost of installing electricity distribution lines is too high.
- The technology allows the conversion of solar energy into electricity through photovoltaic devices and solar thermal energy.
- It contributes to sustainable development.
- Generates employment in the areas where it is installed.
- It reduces the use of fossil fuels.
- Reduces energy imports.
What is solar energy used for?
This new alternative is implemented in homes, businesses, and cities, which can be used to carry out their daily activities, develop sustainable projects, reduce energy consumption and be at the forefront of technological innovation projects.
Some common uses are:
Solar lighting through solar panels
This allows to improve the efficiency in the consumption of energy and to reduce the costs in electricity, what turns it into an alternative energy. The architectural tendencies increasingly adopt this type of lighting as a basis for sustainable design.
Heating Solar heaters take advantage of the sun’s energy and transform it into thermal energy by using water or air. Heating systems can be passive, use natural or active circulation, use the pumps to circulate the water and generate heat.
Transports are driven by solar energy
They are driven by photovoltaic energy. These include electric vehicles driven by energy obtained by solar panels, buses, and railways. There are also sun-powered roads.
In technology, such as solar chargers, useful for charging cell phones, tablets, computers, flashlights or other appliances that work with solar technology such as dryers, radios, lamps, among others.
Companies supplying electricity
Photovoltaic solar energy can be used to generate a large amount of energy in order to sell it to companies that have as a business the power supply.
Remote places of difficult access
It is ideal to provide energy to those distant places, with low development rates, where they have difficulties in having electrical energy.
Solar energy is one of the main methods of supplying satellites that are in orbit in space.
Irrigation of plantations
Solar energy is an alternative to obtaining electricity intended for water pumping for irrigation due to the absence of the electrical power network in distant places.
Traffic signs and public lighting in the cities
Solar poles have been developed that work with sunlight, as well as traffic signals that operate thanks to the sun or the wind.
Types of solar energy
There are three main technologies for the use of solar energy: photovoltaic solar energy, which converts sunlight into energy; the concentrated solar energy, that takes advantage of the heat of the sun to drive thermal motors; and solar thermal energy (solar thermal energy) and solar energy, which uses solar energy to provide hot water or condition air by cooling it.
Solar panels are individual photovoltaic modules that capture the energy provided by the sun by converting it into electricity. They are made up of solar cells that in turn contain individual solar cells made from semiconductor materials such as silicon (crystalline and amorphous) that transform light (photons) into electrical energy (electrons).
When there is sunlight, a solar cell behaves almost like a battery. The received sunlight separates the electrons so that they form a positive charge layer and a negative charge in the solar cell; This potential difference generates an electric current.
These panels connect in turn to a battery that stores the electricity generated and this charge is used. Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic cells (PV), which convert sunlight into DC (DC) electricity during daylight hours.
How photovoltaic solar power works?
Photovoltaic panels take sunlight to generate a direct current, which is transferred and used by most electrical equipment. The generated energy passes through a meter, which quantifies it. Then continue to an electrical supply box, where it is distributed to the local network. Step by step of the generation of
Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic cells (PV), which convert sunlight into DC (DC) electricity during daylight hours.
This device is the one that converts the electricity generated by the solar panels into the AC power.
The AC power is sent from the inverter to its electrical panel to power the lights and devices with solar energy. The electrical panel is often called “switch box”.
The service meter measures the power consumption. It actually goes back when the system generates more energy than it needs immediately. This excess of solar energy compensates for the energy used at night. This is called “Net Metering”, or net measurement.