WHAT IS SOLAR ENERGY USED FOR
What is the use of solar energy ? Solar energy has more and more applications in today’s world, such as the generation of electricity, hot water for heating and sanitary use.
SO THAT SOLAR ENERGY SERVES
Before analyzing what solar energy is for, we will first see what solar energy is and what are the systems for harnessing this type of energy.
What is solar energy ?
Solar energy is one of the main sources of renewable energy. The term solar energy refers to the production of thermal and electrical energy obtained through the use of the sun’s rays.
The sun radiates our planet at a power of around 180 billion kilowatts. A part of the sunlight is reflected by the atmosphere towards outer space.
At any moment, the sun radiates an energy equal to 1367 watts / m² (1.3 kW / m 2) into Earth orbit.
In general, it reaches the surface of the Earth around 1 kilowatt of solar energy per square meter. The energy produced by solar rays can be exploited by the use of different renewable technologies, such as solar panels.
How can the energy of the sun be used?
We know that the energy coming from the sun is one of the most important renewable energies that exist. But … How do we use it? What practical applications do we obtain from its heat and light? How has our life changed thanks to her?
The solar energy is one of the most sustainable energy production alternatives. This is a known fact, but what new applications do we give to one of the most important renewable energies in our life?
If we take into account that Greenpeace estimates that photovoltaic solar energy will be able to supply electricity to two thirds of the population by 2030, and that the World Energy Council believes that in the year 2100, 70% of the energy consumed will be of solar origin, it is not plus review some of the most profitable applications of this renewable:
This is the most basic application of all: thanks to a photovoltaic panel , you can take advantage of the sun’s energy to generate electricity. This will serve to feed, for example, the consumption (or at least part of it) of energy of your home, your hotel, or your company.
Your panel can store the generated in batteries or be directly connected to the network.
In sunny areas, like most countries in Latin America or Spain, solar energy can be used to heat water, through solar collectors that generate heat.
In this case, we talk about panels of solar thermal energy in which the water is heated and can be used in homes (hotels and hospitals), for showering or cooking, and can also be used in heating.
Solar heating and cooling
We call ‘solar cold’ the ecological air conditioning, which, thanks to the consumption of clean energy can represent a saving of up to 70% of energy.
Solar energy is used to produce this eco- conditioned air through two methods: it is collected through photovoltaic panels that activate the cold equipment, or through solar collectors that are themselves producing the thermal energy at low temperature.
That for the summer. In winter, heating can also be solar , as we mentioned in the previous section: thanks to solar thermal systems, where water is heated, which can accumulate for heating, or even for heated pools.
On the other hand, there are those who have it all in one , with solar panels capable of storing energy and turning it into cold or heat, as needed.
Irrigation of plantations
If for a long time the irrigation of plantations has been programmed and made by dripping so as not to waste water, the use of solar pumps allows an optimal use of water even in the most remote places and in need of water.
There are several types of solar irrigation: those of constant pressure, which do not need batteries or accumulation of water, but are fed directly from solar panels; those of pivot movement for large farms (the movement of the pivot is powered by photovoltaic energy); direct solar pumping (without batteries, only with panels); or completely automated irrigation thanks to solar panels.
Thanks to solar panels, gardens, roads and highways can be illuminated by taking advantage of the sun’s energy and without the need for power lines.
During the day the energy is generated and stored, and at night it is used to illuminate said exteriors. Each point can have its own autonomy with a small plate, or there can be a central that collects all the solar energy (although this requires more space and wiring infrastructure).
The LEDs work in these cases as economic and long life light emitters.
Solar cars (and other inventions)
They have not been popularized, much less massified (but everything will come!), But there are large manufacturers developing technology to produce cars that move (and run) thanks to solar energy.
In addition to the solar car, engineers from all over the world develop inventions that only work with solar energy, such as airplanes, laptops, showers or solar bags.
What is the use of thermal solar energy?
Solar thermal energy: uses and applications
Solar thermal energy, many will have heard of it and seen installations with solar panels and water accumulators on the roofs of buildings, hotels, family homes, etc.
Well with this article you can clarify your doubts about how the different systems that exist and their applications work, the elements that compose them and the advantages of this type of energy in terms of profitability and energy efficiency.
Solar thermal energy, also known as solar thermal energy, is another way of using the energy contained in solar radiation, such as photovoltaic solar energy, in which electricity is produced, since thermal solar energy is used to produce heat. which can be used for the production of hot water (ACS).
The heat can also be used to produce cold and thus be able to condition the air of buildings, premises, houses, etc.
What are the types of systems to take advantage of solar energy?
There are several types of systems to take advantage of solar thermal energy ranging from simple heating of drinking water, or combi systems (combined) that are used additionally for heating buildings, to solar thermal cooling systems and production of process heat.
The most used systems for housing use, which we see daily are the first two.
Systems for heating of drinking water
These systems are used regularly to heat the water for residential use in the summer period.
During the winter period this system goes on to fulfill a task of supporting the main heat system (boiler, which can work with electricity, gas oil, wood or with a heat pump) on sunny days.
Solar thermal energy in these systems saves 60% of the thermal energy needed to heat the water. In these systems, the surface or type of solar collector depends on the climatic conditions of the area.
Also called combined systems these systems are used to provide additional heating to buildings in spring and autumn.
These facilities cover 20 to 30 percent of the building’s heat demand by thermal solar energy, depending on insulation and heating needs.
There are special solar houses such as the so-called passive house (Pasiv House) in which these systems cover between 50% and 100% of the total heat demand. Here the surface of the solar collectors is greater.
Thermosolar cooling systems
Solar thermal energy can also be used for cooling buildings (air conditioning) or industrial processes (cooling). The cooling process used by these systems is by evaporation and condensation.
There are two kinds of open and closed thermosolar refrigeration systems. In open systems, liquid and solid absorption materials are used, the closed systems integrate two adsorption and absorption machines, also incorporating cooling and dehumidification processes.
The closed systems are the most used. The most common applications of combi systems are refrigeration, dehumidification and absorption-based air conditioning.
Heat production systems
In the process heat production systems, solar heat is fed to the supply level (industrial hot water or steam network) or to the process level.
The performance of these systems is considerably higher than that of the previous systems. If we take into account that 30% of industrial heat demand is in a temperature range below 100 ºC, the potential of this technology is enormous.
There are three types of collectors applied in heat production systems: Collectors without concentration, collectors of light concentration without monitoring and focused collectors with monitoring. Depending on the type of collector used, the air or water used to feed the processes can be heated.
Economic profitability of solar thermal energy
The economic profitability of solar thermal installations is more difficult to quantify than in photovoltaic installations. The profitability is calculated from the system costs, the performance and the useful life of the installation comparing them with the costs of conventional generation of heat and cooling.
The performance and useful life vary considerably according to the field of application and the technical complexity of the solar thermal installation .. The intensity of the solar radiation is very important.
The installations to heat the drinking water and for the heating of the environments are amortized, much faster in countries with high costs of conventional energies, than in countries with a lower price level.