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What is solar energy?

26 Jan 2023, 04:52 GMT+10

Solar energy is energy derived from the sun. It is the most plentiful energy resource on Earth and can be transformed into electrical or thermal energy from solar radiation. Solar energy is used for various applications, including generating and heating homes, companies, and utilities. Solar energy is a renewable resource and, as such, is essential to the future of clean energy. This article will explain everything you need to know about solar energy, including its applications and operation.

The effect of photovoltaics.
Each photon that reaches Earth's surface includes energy that powers our world. Solar energy is ultimately responsible for Earth's weather systems and energy sources. Each hour, enough solar radiation strikes the planet's surface could theoretically provide our global energy requirements for nearly a year.

Therefore, where does this energy come from? Every star in the galaxy, including the sun, is essentially a huge nuclear reactor. Deep below the Sun's core, nuclear fusion reactions generate vast amounts of energy, which are radiated into space as light and heat from the Sun's surface.

We capture and transform solar energy into usable energy on Earth using photovoltaics or solar thermal collectors. Although solar energy represents a minor portion of worldwide energy consumption, the decreasing cost of installing solar panels enables more and more individuals in more locations to utilize solar energy. Solar is a clean, renewable energy resource that will play a significant role in the future of global energy.

What is the purpose of solar energy?
Numerous solar energy devices capture solar energy. Photovoltaics and solar thermal capture are the two primary techniques to utilize solar energy. Photovoltaics are far more prevalent for smaller-scale energy projects (such as domestic solar panel installations). In contrast, solar thermal capture is normally reserved for large-scale utility solar systems producing vast amounts of electricity. In addition to producing energy, solar thermal projects with reduced temperature changes can be used for heating and cooling.

Solar is one of the world's cheapest and fastest-growing energy sources, and its rapid expansion will continue in the coming years. In addition to the environmental benefits of adopting a clean, renewable energy source, each year's advancements in solar technology increase solar's cost advantages. In the future, solar and wind power are expected to increase their presence in large-scale power stations, thereby aiding in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the fight against climate change.

Photovoltaic solar energy
Using a photovoltaic (PV) solar system is a frequent technique for property owners to benefit from solar energy. With a solar PV system, solar panels (also known as solar modules) turn sunlight into electricity that you may use immediately, store in a solar battery, or deliver to the electric grid for bill credits (depending on where you live).

The photovoltaic effect is the process through which solar panels transform solar energy into useful power. In solar cells, incoming light strikes a semiconductor material (usually silicon) and knocks free electrons, setting them in motion and generating an electric current that can be caught by wiring. This current is known as direct current (DC) power. It must be converted to alternating current (AC) electricity using a solar inverter, as most of the U.S. electric grid and the majority of domestic electric equipment operate on AC electricity.

Solar energy is captured at multiple sizes using photovoltaics. Installing a solar energy system is a sensible approach to reducing your dependence on nonrenewable fossil fuels and saving money on your electric bill. Massive businesses and electric utilities can also benefit from photovoltaic solar energy generation by building large solar arrays that power company operations or feed energy into the power grid.

Thermal solar energy

The second method of utilizing solar energy is to directly capture the heat from solar radiation and use it as solar thermal energy. Solar thermal energy has a greater range of applications than photovoltaics, although its usage for small-scale electricity generation is less practical than photovoltaics.

There are three broad forms of solar thermal energy: low-temperature energy, used for heating and cooling; medium-temperature energy, used for water heating; and high-temperature energy, utilized for generating electricity.

As a way of climate management, low-temperature solar thermal energy systems incorporate heating and cooling air, as in passive solar building design. In properties designed to use passive solar energy, the sun's rays are let in to heat a living space and blocked when the room needs to be cooled.

Systems for solar thermal energy at moderate temperatures include solar water heating systems. In a solar hot water system, rooftop collectors collect heat from the sun. This heat is then transferred to the water flowing through your home's pipes, eliminating the need for conventional water heating techniques such as oil or gas-powered water heaters.

High-temperature solar thermal energy systems utilize concentrated solar power (CSP) to create electricity on a bigger scale. Mirrors in a solar thermal electricity plant concentrate the sun's beams on tubes containing a heat-retaining liquid. This heated fluid evaporates water into steam, which then powers a turbine and generates electricity - all with the help of focused sunshine!

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