Simplified solar energy

Simplified solar energy

 

The sun shines, we collect sunlight, we convert sunlight into usable forms and we take advantage of it. You can not get easier than that. But all right, I know you need more explanation. You have searched everywhere on the Web for information and you need, you do not deserve, more than a single sentence. What follows would be my attempt to simplify the concept of solar energy and I hope you get something out of it.

The sun produces enormous amounts of energy. But what the Earth gets is a small part of that energy. However, even if we only get a tiny amount, the energy we receive from the sun is largely sufficient for our needs. Believe it or not, a sunny day can power a great country like the United States for over a year.

So, if it's all the amount of energy we can get from the sun, why do we rely too much on fossil fuels that will disappear in 40 or 50 years? The main problem is that the sun is shining all over the world. This energy is so dispersed that its exploitation is really a challenge. Nevertheless, there are other factors at play here, of a political, economic and even cultural nature, contributing to the slow progress of solar technologies. But that will require a whole chapter, or even a whole book to debate, so let that be a moment.

We use sunlight in different ways and our method depends on how we plan to use that energy. But we can divide use into two general concepts, converting solar energy into heat, and converting it into electricity.

The use of solar energy to heat homes is a very good example of the first category. You can use two methods, the first is based on the positioning of windows in the house and the second is to use mechanical devices to distribute the heat throughout the house.

Solar water heaters are now available. What you do is provide a solar collector where the sun's heat is trapped and collected. This heat is then transferred to the outlet of your faucets and showers.

The conversion of solar energy into electricity, however, requires some additional explanation. There are basically two ways to get solar energy out of the electricity. The first involves the use of photovoltaic cells and the second uses various solar thermal systems.

Photovoltaic cells are more commonly known as solar cells. These cells are made from silicon and phosphorus wafers. When sunlight hits the surface of the silicon wafers, free electrons are produced. The electrons are then exploited by attaching a wire to the cells. When the electrons leave the cells and pass through the wire, an electronic current is generated.

A major flaw in photovoltaic cells is that they can be quite expensive and only convert a small amount of sunlight. Let's hope that these cells can be cheaper, more efficient and better adapted to the future needs of consumers.

The great thing about solar energy is that it does not produce any kind of pollution, unlike fossil fuels that release significant amounts of pollutants into the air and even into the water. In addition, the sun is about healthy and it is still very far from dying. We can use more than enough sun energy to last a lifetime.

 

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