Solar energy: Basic concepts
Energy in the form of solar radiation, is the most universal energy par excellence. Solar radiation provides light, heat, generates air currents, that is, wind, intervenes in the process of photosynthesis, allowing the growth of vegetation, and also in the water cycle.
Solar energy is therefore a fundamental part, in the generation of other renewable energies , indirectly, but also allows, directly, obtain other types of energy such as solar thermal energy , in solar collectors, passive solar energy , through the implementation of passive architectural strategies -crystallizations and thermal inertia-, and finally electricity from photovoltaic cells.
The benefits of the use of solar energy in general are multiple , since in the first place, it reduces to the maximum the energy dependence of the conventional polluting energies, and on the other hand also minimizes the negative impact on the environment, without forgetting its potential to generate employment.
The use of solar radiation as a source of clean energy, to produce electricity , does not produce CO2 or environmental pollution, and also its maintenance is simple and its useful life can be 20 years or more, it does not produce noise pollution, it does not depend on a fuel, only from the solar radiation, and allows the autonomy with respect to the general electrical network , in isolated populations, or the generation of electricity in the buildings themselves in the cities, thanks to the systems of distributed generation.
On the other hand, it is necessary to consider certain precautions in its installation and operation equipment . In the first place, its installation can cause negative visual impact , if it is not properly integrated, or due to the extension it may occupy in high power facilities, it can affect the ecosystem of the place.
On the other hand, the use of accumulators in solar thermal, requires control and protection against legionellosis, when tanks are used for production of ACS, and in the case of electrical production with photovoltaic cells, such storage is carried out through the use of batteries, which contain dangerous chemicals .
What is the photovoltaic effect?
The solar energy , as we all know, is a source of clean energy that can be transformed into electrical energy. The photovoltaic panels is the medium used, by sensing direct sunlight primarily and to a lesser extent, the diffuse solar radiation.
The amount of energy captured , by a panel of photovoltaic cells, will depend, therefore, on the weather conditions , and especially on its orientation with respect to the solar rays : perpendicular at all times, to achieve the maximum use.
The transformation of solar energy into electrical energy is due to the photovoltaic effect . This effect converts light into electricity , through a medium. The medium used consists of a material that absorbs the photons of light-energy-and then emits electrons. These electrons move by exchanging positions, and producing an electric current.
We all know that matter is composed of atoms , which in their last layer, contain electrons. These electrons allow the formation of bonds between atoms forming structures, and the electrical conductivity of the material will depend on their mobility.
The materials that are used in the manufacture of photovoltaic cells containing solar modules, silicon for example, are semi-conductor materials , which when they capture the solar radiation -pots- release these electrons, which circulate permanently through the material , due to the presence of an electric field.
The electric field is generated by combining in the photovoltaic cell, two layers of semi-conductor material, but with opposite electric charges each layer. An external conductor allows the flow of electrons from one layer to another , when the cell receives radiation, thus producing an electric current.
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