Solar energy has multiple uses in our daily life. It can be used as a passive source of energy as well as an active source of energy.
In the solar system, solar cells are used to generate electricity from sunlight. The solar cell converts light energy into electrical energy. For this process, photovoltaic cells are also used when the light source is unspecified.
|The most common types of solar energy technologies and the most important uses of solar energy in our daily life|
Types of Solar Energy Technologies and The Uses of Solar Energy in Daily Life
Solar energy is one of the most important renewable sources of energy used by humans. Solar energy is derived from the sun's radiation.
The Most Common Uses of Solar Energy in Daily Life
There are many uses of solar energy from ancient times to the present. the main uses of solar energy may include:
⇒Solar energy is used to heat water through a solar heater, which is a cleaner and less expensive way to operate than stoves used for this purpose, which was dependent on burning wood or coal. Solar heaters are placed on the roofs of the houses diagonally, which fits the inclination of solar radiation and its direction.
⇒Solar energy helps dry clothes by evaporating water molecules from them.
⇒Solar energy assists plants in photosynthesis and helps bones to make vitamin D which is very important for bone growth.
⇒Solar technology brightens streets and roads at night through the use of solar cells that store solar energy during the day and convert it to light energy at night.
⇒Water distillation and seawater desalination using solar energy have created solutions for areas suffering from rainfall and river shortages.
⇒Solar technologies find a solution to remote areas that are not served by electricity, by relying on solar energy to manage their lives.
⇒The Solar Power Satellite (SPS) system helps deliver power and electricity to elements on planetary surfaces and to space vehicles.
⇒Solar technologies help establish solar thermal power plants to generate electricity and summarize the mechanism of work in the focus of solar radiation on pipes where water flows, which leads to the conversion of water to steam passes to the turbines to generate electricity.
⇒Many factories use solar heat to generate electricity as an abundant source of renewable energy. This process involves the use of sun-tracking mirrors that reflect their rays to a central point at the top of a tower that has tubes with the liquid that absorbs heat. This liquid is then pumped when it becomes hot in a generator that turns it into steam. The resulting steam drives a turbine responsible for generating electricity.
Types of Solar Energy Technologies
Solar technologies are used to produce electricity, heat, light, hot water, and heating and cooling processes.
There are different types of solar technologies that have been developed to benefit from solar energy such as Passive solar energy, Active solar energy, Solar Thermal Energy, Photovoltaic Solar Power, Concentrating Solar Power.
There are three basic technologies through which solar energy is harnessed:: photovoltaics (PV), concentrated solar power (CSP), and solar heating and cooling (SHC) systems.
The Most Important Solar Technologies
The following are the most important solar technologies:
Photovoltaic Power System
Photovoltaic panels or photovoltaic System is a photoelectric system that uses solar power to generate electricity.
The system consists of solar cells made of semiconducting materials. When exposed to the sun, they collect the energy of solar radiation to convert it to electricity. Electricity generated in this way can be stored in batteries or used directly.
In the photovoltaic power system, solar cells are used to convert sunlight directly into electricity.
Solar cells are made of semiconducting materials and often used to power watches and calculators. These materials are similar to those used in computer chips.
When sunlight is absorbed by these materials, solar energy stimulates electrons out of their atoms, which allow electrons to flow through the material to produce electricity.
The process of converting sunlight (photons) to electricity (voltages) is called "Photovoltaic Effect".
Concentrated Solar Power (CSP)
Concentrated solar power (CSP) system is a system that uses mirrors or lenses to focus a large area of sunlight on a small area. Electric power is produced when solar energy is converted to heat, which drives a thermal engine connected to an electric generator.
Solar Electric Power Systems
Many power plants today use fossil fuels as a heat source for boiling water, where steam produced by boiling water runs huge turbines that power generators to produce electricity.
A new generation of concentrated solar power plants (CSP plants) has also emerged which works with concentrated solar systems.
There are three main ways of these systems to produce electricity; Parabolic trough, Dish/Engine, and Power Tower.
Solar Power Systems for Heating and Cooling
Commercial and industrial buildings use the same solar technologies found in residential buildings - PV systems, passive heating, and water heating - and these buildings can also use impractical technologies in homes that include ventilation air heating, solar heating processes, and solar cooling.
Let’s see heating and cooling separately:
Solar heating: We use solar energy to provide suitable indoor thermal conditions in two main ways:
The first is the active solar heating), in which the hot fluid (liquid or gas) is circulated by a pump or fan.
The second is passive solar heating that does not use external energy, but allows heat to flow into the building in natural ways.
Solar cooling: Solar energy can be used to cool buildings and rooms in one of two ways:
The first is an absorption cooling system that derives its energy from solar energy sources.
Second, passive and energy-efficient refrigeration systems, all of which are readily available at present, but the high initial cost of effective systems has limited their widespread use.
Passive Solar Systems for Heating and Daylighting
When you leave your house on a hot and sunny summer day, you will definitely feel the heat of the sun in your body caused by the intensity of solar energy.
Today many homes around the world are designed to take advantage of this natural source. In summer, the south side always faces sunlight, so houses designed for passive heating usually have large windows overlooking the south.
Walls, floors, and windows are made to absorb and store solar energy, they release heat stored in the winter for heating and other domestic purposes while rejecting solar energy in summer.
Homes that use these environmentally friendly materials are often called greenhouses.
Another advantage of passive heating is that it provides daylight for homes, using natural sunlight to give some beautiful touches indoors.
Solar Water Heating System
In winter, shallow water - a little deep - for lakes is usually warmer than deep water because sunlight heats the bottom of lakes located in shallow areas. This process is a natural way of heating water by solar energy.
Sunlight can also be used by the solar system in the same way to heat water used in buildings and swimming pools.
How Solar Technology can Change the Future?
In recent years, renewable energy technologies, particularly solar and wind energy, have gained increasing benefits in their efficiency, enough to achieve economic competition among countries and cost-equality in some countries.
The days when renewable energy sources were expensive are forgotten. We are currently avoiding the use of traditional coal-based energy sources, which will become more expensive in the future.
Some economists have predicted the potential prices for renewable energy, especially solar power and they suggested that renewable energy will be consistently cheaper than conventional fossil fuels by 2020.
Even the most expensive renewable energy technology, CSP, competes with fossil fuels under certain conditions.
The World Economic Forum published a report mentioning the lower cost of solar energy compared to the cost of fossil fuels.
For example, the average cost of unsubsidized electricity for a solar photovoltaic facility - which was not desirable five years ago - has dropped by 23% to the compound annual rate, making it better and more convenient than coal in many countries.
This is why we have witnessed an increasing use of solar energy, and we are witnessing the combined efforts of nations and private institutions in this field and the establishment of giant solar energy infrastructure.