Today, an increasing number of households are choosing to use solar energy as a real alternative to fossil fuels. Solar energy promotes sustainable development and allows real savings on our energy bills. But how does it work and what are its advantages?
What is solar energy?
Solar energy is a renewable and inexhaustible source of energy generated by the electromagnetic radiation produced by the sun. It can be captured and converted into heat or usable electricity.
While most electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels, which release carbon dioxide (CO2) and pollute the air, solar energy does not emit anything into the atmosphere. It is a clean and renewable source of energy that does not harm the environment.
Solar energy can be harnessed through the use of panels and reflectors:
1. Photovoltaic (PV) systems: electronic devices that directly convert sunlight into electricity through the photoelectric effect, where certain materials can absorb photons and generate an electric current.
2. Solar thermal collectors: these collectors use mirrors or panels to concentrate sunlight. The concentrated rays heat a fluid, which creates steam to power a turbine and produce electricity.
Solar energy can also be used passively through eco-construction techniques.
A solar energy kit is a product designed for individuals to produce and self-consume electricity. It typically includes a solar panel, a battery pack, and is easy to install. The kit ensures that the battery and solar panel are compatible, allowing for efficient production and optimal storage of energy.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to generate your own electricity! Contact us for a free study on the installation of solar panels!
What are the different types of solar energy?
There are three types of solar energy:
– Photovoltaic solar energy;
– Solar thermal energy;
– Solar thermodynamic energy.
Solar Photovoltaic Energy
One of the most common ways to harness solar energy is through the use of photovoltaic systems, which directly produce electricity from sunlight.
When sunlight hits one side of a photovoltaic cell, it creates a voltage difference between the two sides, causing electrons to flow from one side to the other and generating an electric current.
This is made possible by installing photovoltaic solar panels, which are made up of silicon cells that convert sunlight and heat into electrical energy. These solar panels can be installed on buildings and houses at a domestic scale, as well as on larger installations.
The history of photovoltaic technology dates back to its use in providing electricity to satellites. The development of photovoltaic panels then accelerated in the 1950s and became an alternative to fossil fuel use.
Solar Thermal Energy
Solar thermal energy production systems collect and concentrate sunlight to generate high-temperature heat needed for electricity production. These systems consist of solar energy collectors with two main components:
Reflectors (mirrors) that capture and concentrate sunlight onto a receiver;
A thermal energy storage system that allows the solar collectors to heat an energy storage system during the day. The heat from the storage system is then used to generate electricity in the evening or on cloudy days.
Solar thermal energy harnesses the power of sunlight by using mirrors to concentrate the sun’s rays onto a receiver, reaching temperatures of up to 1000°C. The heat is then used to heat a liquid, generating steam that drives a turbine to produce electricity. There are four main types of concentrated solar thermal energy production systems:
Linear concentration systems: these systems consist of long rows of flat or slightly curved mirrors that move independently on an axis. The mirrors reflect sunlight onto fixed linear receivers mounted above them on towers;
Solar power towers: these systems involve a network of heliostats (large mirrors with two-axis tracking) that concentrate sunlight onto a fixed receiver at the top of a tower;
Parabolic systems: an emerging and highly efficient technology in which a parabolic dish with two-axis tracking concentrates sunlight onto a focal point receiver;
Parabolic trough systems: the most widely deployed technology, which uses parabolic mirrors to track the sun from east to west.
Solar thermal energy
Solar thermal energy heating is a simple and efficient technology that uses natural, clean, and free energy from the environment to heat domestic water.
Thermodynamic solar panels work by absorbing and transferring the heat from the air or direct sunlight into a fluid. This fluid then passes through a compressor, which increases its temperature. The heat can then be used for heating air and water systems.
Thermodynamic systems are up to four times more efficient than conventional systems!
Unlike traditional photovoltaic solar panels, thermodynamic solar heating systems do not require direct sunlight and can produce heat regardless of the weather conditions, all year round.
Although thermodynamic solar panels are installed on roofs like traditional solar panels, they are actually closer to aerothermal heat pumps in terms of technology, as they do not collect sunlight but rather heat from the air.
What are the benefits of solar energy?
While it was initially criticized for its cost and inefficiency, solar energy has proven to be extremely beneficial in terms of economic and environmental impact.
Thanks to subsidies available for solar panel installations, as well as increasingly competitive prices on the market, solar energy has become the main source of energy for more and more households. The technology has significantly improved in recent years and has been complemented by solar battery storage systems, making solar power a much more efficient and clean energy source.
However, regardless of the energy source used, there are always disadvantages. It is therefore important to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy before considering any installation.
Advantages of solar energy:
– 100% inexhaustible, renewable, and free energy
– Reduces dependence on oil and fossil fuels
– No toxic or polluting emissions into the air
– Excellent return on investment (savings on energy bills)
– Well installed and maintained solar panels can have a lifespan of nearly 40 years
– Solar energy can be used to heat water, power homes and buildings, and even cars
Disadvantages of solar energy:
– Intermittent energy production (solar production is lower during winter months)
– High initial investment
– The production of solar panels has consequences on the environment.