We explain what solar energy is and how it is produced. In addition, what is it for, and what are its advantages and disadvantages.
What is solar energy?
Solar energy is a renewable form of energy, obtained from the transformation of the electromagnetic radiation from the sun . This energy has been harnessed by life naturally since ancient times, and thanks to contemporary technology it is possible to receive and store it in photovoltaic cells or different types of thermal collectors, to take advantage of it for human purposes.
The sun constantly emits energy to space and much of it impacts the Earth, the majority is rejected by the atmosphere and dispersed into space, but a remaining 30% enters the planet and is absorbed by the oceans and continents. Approximately 1000 W / m 2 of energy enter our world in this way.
Solar radiation can then be converted into caloric or electrical energy , with which to feed homes, industries and all kinds of mechanisms; It is a constant source (as the sun always emits), economical, non- polluting and safe energy.
Types of solar energy
Solar energy utilization tools can be passive or active, depending on their behavior:
- Active . Those that collect and store energy using photovoltaic devices and thermal concentration technologies.
- Passive . The provisions that have to do with bioclimatic architecture, that is, the orientation of buildings to receive more natural light, to prevent the dispersion of heat added by the sun, etc.
How is solar energy produced?
Solar energy is a consequence, first of all, of the atomic reactions that are constantly occurring inside the Sun , where there are large amounts of atoms fusing and fissioning in a large natural nuclear reaction. This generates huge amounts of heat and energy that are irradiated to space and planets.
This radiation reaches, as we have said, the surface of our planet, after being filtered by the atmosphere. Then it is received by two types of instruments:
- Photovoltaic cells . These are solar panels installed on roofs, roofs or large areas of free land, composed of lots of silicon solar cells capable of converting solar radiation into usable electrical energy .
- Thermal collectors . These systems collect the caloric energy of solar radiation and allow their redistribution for practical purposes, such as heating, heaters and even electricity generation, since such heat can be used to boil water and mobilize turbines.
What is solar energy for?
Solar energy involves many practical possibilities in today’s world. The capacity of autonomy that photovoltaic installations provide to farms and settlements separated from the power line can be key in a better quality of life , since it translates into consumable electricity in different tasks and in heat for heaters of different types.
On the other hand, more and more countries invest in this type of technology, which takes advantage of a constant natural resource to reduce the dependence of developed countries on fossil fuels , such as oil or coal, in obtaining energy. In fact, solar panels operate regularly on satellites and space modules that humanity has sent to space, which is an example of the potential of this energy in the world to come.
Solar energy has, like everything else, its positive and negative aspects.
Advantages of solar energy
- Ecology . Solar energy does not pollute, nor does it require complicated processes to extract raw material that harm the environment . In fact, it is compatible with urban life .
- Savings . It is a cheap energy model, since the Sun radiates free to everyone and does not require the purchase of raw materials, only for technological investment and maintenance.
- Security . Solar energy has risks to the health of atomic energy or fossil, and is also a fully renewable model (as long as the sun, of course).
Disadvantages of solar energy
- Spotty . The production of this energy, since it depends on the amount of solar radiation perceived, fluctuates according to the weather , the seasons and other climatic phenomena that can hinder the work and minimize the energy flow.
- Initial cost . While obtaining energy is very economical, the installation costs of a solar plant are still quite high, given the amount of technology required.
- Location . Large territorial extensions are required to obtain high solar energy yields, and that in many cases is difficult to achieve. Desert areas usually receive a lot of sun and have large plains available, but at the same time they are very far from any human settlement.