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Monday, October 28, 2019

What are the Benefits and Drawbacks of Solar Energy?

Solar Energy
Advantages and disadvantages of solar energy 
What are the Benefits and Drawbacks of Solar Energy?
Solar energy is one of the most important sources of environmentally safe, permanent natural renewable energy,, which is not exhaustible, and found alongside hydroelectric power, wind energy,  ocean wave energy and biomass. Solar energy can only be utilized during periods of sunlight, so its systems remain shut down in the evening and on most days during winter. This drawback makes this energy unstable for many.


Solar Energy - An Overview

Solar energy is the solar radiation emitted by the sun that produces heat and leads to chemical reactions. Solar energy is one of the most important sources of permanent natural renewable energy, which is not exhaustible, and found alongside wind energy, hydroelectric power, sea wave energy, biomass. It can be exploited in many fields by converting it to other forms of energy such as thermal and electrical energy. The amount of solar energy falling on Earth is far greater than the current and future energy requirements of the Earth, so if this energy is used well, it will be able to meet all future energy needs.
Solar energy is not as polluting to the environment as fossil fuels, coal, oil, and natural gas. The amount of solar radiation falling on the surface of the Earth is small compared to the amount of radiation that the sun emits towards the Earth, where the atmosphere reflects a large proportion of the rays before they enter the inner atmosphere. The oceans and clouds contribute to the absorption of a large amount of other falling solar radiation. The remainder is used to convert solar energy to other forms of energy, and the incident solar radiation is divided into visible light by about 50%, infrared radiation by 45%, and small amounts of ultraviolet radiation. In this article, we will discuss, what are the benefits and drawbacks of solar energy.

The Uses of Solar Energy

The usefulness of the sun and solar energy for humans is well known. Solar energy has been used since ancient times in its direct form in many applications, the most famous of these applications are drying crops, heating homes. There are many historical sources that confirmed that sunlight was used by Archimedes to burn Rome's war fleet in the war of 212 BC and pointed out that Archimedes managed to focus the sunlight on the ships of the enemies by shedding many metal shields towards these ships. Sunlight has also been used to set fire to many civilizations and peoples. The most important uses of solar energy may include:




Electric Power Generation
Solar energy and solar radiation can be used to produce electrical energy by solar cells (photovoltaics). These cells generate a small voltage when exposed to direct sunlight. Solar cells contain semiconducting materials (such as silicon) that convert the sun's light energy into electrical energy. A single solar cell can generate only 2 watts of electricity, collecting more than one solar cell in groups called matrices, capable of generating hundreds or even thousands of kilowatts of electricity to power factories and provide communities with electricity.

Thermal Power Generation
The thermal power station is one of the most common areas for the exploitation of solar energy to convert it to a source of thermal energy. This process is carried out by placing a set of solar panels containing a black metal layer, covered with one or two glass plates, which are heated when exposed to direct sunlight. The heat stored in the black metallic layer is transferred to the contact medium below, whether air or water, which is used directly or may be transferred to another medium for storage and use at night and in periods of absence of sunlight. The resulting heat energy is used in solar water heaters and central heating in homes when hot water flows into the heating pipes of floors and ceilings.

Solar-Powered Desalination
The researchers have developed a solar water desalination system using nanotechnology. Water is desalinated by separating the stream of cold water and hot water with a thin membrane. The water vapor is drawn through this membrane from the hot to the cold side and the salt particles dissolved in it are filtered. The system was developed by adding more membranes and nano-carbon nanoparticles that convert the energy of sunlight into heat, which also heats the separating membrane, so this membrane does not require more constant supplies of hot water. The membrane is heated directly by sunlight, and no energy is required to heat the water. The entire system is a key energy-saving system that relies on the presence of solar panels. It only needs a pump to drive liquid water through the process, and the system administrators were able to increase its efficiency by increasing the concentration of sunlight. They used a lens to concentrate solar radiation 25 times. The resulting power reached 17.5 kW per square meter of concentrated solar radiation, thus increasing water production by about six liters per square meter per hour.

Other Important Uses: Solar energy is sometimes used to produce clean and renewable hydrogen, which is very similar to the principle of photosynthesis, in which oxygen is separated from hydrogen in water.




Benefits of Solar Energy

The importance of solar energy lies in the possibility of exploiting and converting it into electric or thermal energy, as it can be used in many other fields, and here are the most important general benefits of solar energy:
⇒Solar energy is a permanent source of energy which is not exhaustible and found alongside hydroelectric power, wind energy, and sea wave energy.
⇒Solar energy can be exploited as a natural alternative to generating electricity, and therefore can be completely dispensed with electricity companies, and stop paying the burdensome electrical bills to human budgets and organizations.
⇒Solar energy is an environmentally safe source. It is also environmentally friendly energy that does not cause any form of air pollution.
⇒Solar energy is used as a fuel for cars. People have created cars that run on sunlight energy, instead of consuming oil derivatives which increase the cost of commuting between areas, reducing environmental pollution and smoke from these fuels.
⇒Solar energy is used to sterilize water and make it safe for drinking and human and agricultural consumption.
⇒Cooling and heating systems are one of the most important ways in which this energy can be exploited, providing hot water all the time, by placing solar panels or basins on rooftops and homes on sunny days.
⇒Solar energy is highly available for long periods of time, reducing the number of lines connected between buildings and the spread of poles on the roads.
⇒Solar energy prevents pollution resulting from the use of industrial generators.
⇒Solar energy prevents noise pollution as it does not produce any annoying sounds, nor does it cause other environmental damage.
⇒Solar energy does not require constant efforts in maintenance and installation, as its systems are durable and non-perishable.
⇒The technologies used in this type of renewable energy are relatively simple when compared to those used in other energy sources such as wind energy.
⇒This energy often doesn't need a lot of moving pieces to produce. The production of this energy does not require the use of any type of fuel, making it a low-cost source.

Drawbacks of Solar Energy

There are some downsides to solar energy, including:
⇨Solar energy can only be utilized during periods of sunlight, so its systems remain shut down in the evening and on most days during winter.
⇨The lack of solar energy throughout the day, and the presence or absence of solar energy changes with the seasons of the year, making this source unstable for many.
⇨The high prices of batteries used to store solar energy, and it is difficult to store this energy without losing large quantities of them.
⇨The high cost of equipment that converts thermal energy from the sun to electrical or electromagnetic energy, making it difficult for many to have such equipment.
⇨The cost of building a solar system is almost expensive, but over long periods of use, this energy is profitable.
⇨Care must be taken to clean the solar energy on a continuous basis, to ensure its use, which is a burden on the people who use it, as the accumulation of dust and dirt is still present in the open areas.
⇨Solar energy cannot be utilized in areas with a significant rainfall.
⇨The efficiency of solar cells is estimated at only about 20%, although scientific studies and research and development operations on the cells are still in place to raise the efficiency rate.




How Much Solar Energy Hits the Earth's Surface?
The amount of energy and solar radiation falling on the planet's outer envelope is estimated at 174 million beta watts each year, 30% of which is reflected by the atmosphere, and the remaining energy is absorbed by oceans, landmasses and the atmosphere, leading to global warming. As in the oceans, where the ocean water evaporates as a result of warming water to form water vapor that rises up, low temperatures to condense and falls in the form of rain. Increasing the latent heat of the water condensation process can lead to heat transfer, which forms a variety of atmospheric phenomena such as hurricanes and winds. Solar energy plays a key role in photosynthesis in green plants, which consume around 3,000 joules of solar energy per year, by converting solar energy into chemical energy, producing food, wood, and biomass from which fossil fuels are extracted.

It should be noted that the cost of installing solar power systems such as solar panels, solar heaters, cooling, and air conditioning systems and others,  is rather high, however, it lasts for a very long time to many years, in some cases more than twenty-five years.

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