Projections show that solar energy will account for 20% of all electricity generated in the US by 2050.
As technology advances and people become more aware of its benefits, the use of solar energy is increasing. It’s one of the most popular renewable energy sources available, but how is solar energy harnessed?
Read through this solar energy guide to find out.
Table of Contents
First, you need to ask “what is solar energy?”. It’s simply energy generated from the sun, which is why it has so much potential as a renewable resource. It’s essentially unlimited and is accessible anywhere in the world.
There are various methods of harnessing solar energy, and they are used for different purposes.
This is perhaps the most well-known method, which uses solar panels to absorb sunlight. The panels convert this energy into electricity and are ideal for both residential and commercial applications.
More people are starting to use this method to produce power for their homes, and many solar energy benefits make it better than traditional electricity resources. If you’re interested in solar power in Colorado you should check out Blue Raven Solar. Their BluePower Plus+ plan can give you solar power for the first 18 months free of charge.
This method uses a chamber with small tubes that circulate water (or another fluid). Black-painted plates or a heat-absorbing material are used to help the system heat up, and the top is clear to allow in sunlight. The heat from the sun transfers to the liquid, giving warm water.
Some systems circulate the water with a pump, while others just use gravity. A tank then stores the hot water until it’s used.
Passive solar energy can be used for both heat and light. Certain materials can absorb heat very effectively, so placing them in direct sunlight will generate a lot of heat quickly. They can then radiate this heat through the night.
Tombre Walls are thick and painted black to absorb more heat. They’re designed with a clear plastic panel just a few inches away. This works as an insulator so that the system radiates heat for hours.
Some systems can produce electricity from concentrated sunlight. This clean energy is generally used to heat water through various methods.
Parabolic-through systems focus sunlight with mirrors to heat a pipe that circulates oil and generates steam. The dish/engine also uses mirrors to concentrate heat which will boil water or expand it to drive a piston. Power towers are surrounded by mirrors that heat molten salt in the tower which is then sent to a boiler.
Larger buildings can make more effective use of this than residential homes. Evacuated-tube collectors are used to heat fluids in double-walled tubes. The surrounding vacuum is a good insulator making this a very effective form of heating.
Desiccant cooling allows for cooling systems powered by solar energy and they’re highly efficient.
You no longer need to wonder how is solar energy harnessed, but might be wondering where things will go from here. Advancements continue to make solar energy more viable in various applications. With the increase in concern over climate change, renewable resources are becoming far more popular and the use of solar energy will continue to grow in the coming years.
For more tech articles check out some of our other blog posts.
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