What is solar energy?

What is solar energy?

By definition, solar energy is energy whose raw material is the sun. It is free, inexhaustible and in addition, available worldwide.

Synonymous with ecology, this source of energy is cleaner, that is to say that it does not emit any greenhouse gases. Since the dawn of time, energy from the sun has been used to provide heat and as much natural light as possible in homes. Simple, the technique takes into account the architecture, orientation and materials of the building so that it is heated and lit by passive solar energy.

The different types of solar energy

It must be said that the techniques for using solar energy have continued to improve over the years. Today, there are three types of solar energy categorized according to their production methods:

solar energy

Solar thermal energy

This type of energy is produced from thermal solar panels placed on the roof of the house to capture the heat of the sun. How does it work ? It’s simple: thermal solar panels contain heat transfer fluids. Once heated by the sun, they in turn heat the hot water tank. The solar thermal energy thus obtained can be used in different ways: solar heating , water heaters, stoves.

Photovoltaic solar energy

If solar thermal energy is obtained by the heat of the sun, solar photovoltaic energy is obtained by the energy of solar radiation itself. In other words, photovoltaic panels, often installed on the roof, collect photons from the sun and transform them into electricity. These photovoltaic panels are composed of a superposition of layers of cells, one of which is negatively charged and the other positively. As soon as a photon passes through these layers, it produces an electric voltage. It only remains to connect a wire to the negative terminal and another to the positive terminal to harness the electricity produced. Basically, photovoltaic solar power works like a battery.

solar energy

Thermodynamic solar energy

Thermodynamic solar energy, on the other hand, is produced by concentrating solar power plants. This equipment is composed of mirrors with heat transfer fluids and a solar electricity generator . Like thermal solar panels, these mirrors convert the energy provided by solar radiation into heat, but at a considerably higher temperature. The latter can, moreover, range from 250 to 800 ° depending on the techniques used. The heat thus obtained will then be converted into electrical energy by activating the turbo-alternator.

Solar energy: what future?

Thanks to technological developments, solar energy has a bright future ahead. Indeed, solar panels may represent an interesting investment, many are still reluctant to use them because of their unsightly appearance and their size. Innovative solutions are then being studied at this time. Others are even already marketed to a few companies. Some of the most promising are solar tiles, solar glazing and solar bricks.

Rob Prosser

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