Solar energy


Solar energy is one that takes advantage of solar radiation as a source. This, through photoelectric cells (which make up solar panels), heliostats or solar collectors.

In other words, solar energy is one of the types of renewable energy sources out there. It uses the sun's light and heat to generate thermal or electrical energy.

This type of energy has an inexhaustible natural source. However, it also has its downsides, as we will see later.

Types of solar energy

Solar energy can be classified into three main types:

  • Thermal: Uses sunlight to produce heat through solar collectors or collectors. In this way, you can heat water, cook food, operate the heating, etc. It can develop at different scales, so that it can be distinguished:
    • Low temperature collectors: They are for domestic use. They allow to provide heat at temperatures below 65 ° C by means of metallic or non-metallic absorbers. The solar radiation captured in the collector allows the generation of heat that is then transferred through metal tubes. Its use is mainly intended for heating and water heating in homes.
    • Medium temperature collectors: They are tools that allow to deliver heat at temperatures between 100 and 300 ºC.
    • High temperature collectors: They allow to supply heat at temperatures of more than 500ºC.They serve, in particular, to transform this type of energy into electrical energy. This, through the installation of solar thermal power plants in large areas of land.
  • Photovoltaic: It is one that produces solar energy by installing solar panels or panels. These devices have silicon cells that transform light and heat from the sun into electricity. Like thermal energy, it can be applied on a small or large scale.
  • Passive: It is one that allows the use of solar energy without the need for any device, such as collectors or solar panels. For example, a building can be designed or built with certain materials, and also with a certain orientation, so that it can capture solar energy during daylight hours. This implies the implementation of a bioclimatic architecture.

Advantages and disadvantages of solar energy

The main advantages of solar energy are:

  • It has an inexhaustible and natural source of energy that is the sun.
  • The impact on the environment is minimal, compared even to other renewable energies such as wind (where the impact of wind turbines on birds is questioned) or hydro (where the impact on the aquatic ecosystem is noticed).
  • It can be adapted to domestic environments, with the installation of solar panels that provide energy to homes.

In contrast, the disadvantages of this type of energy are:

  • A permanent supply of sunlight is required for its operation. However, not all regions of the planet can capture the sun's radiation in the same way.
  • In line with the previous point, like all renewable energies, solar energy depends on the climatic factor and does not guarantee a permanent supply. To analyze it another way, it would be problematic if a community depended only on sunlight, since it does not have a regular flow. Faced with this drawback, technology has advanced and it is possible to store the energy from sunlight, but only through solar thermal energy systems. However, photovoltaic solar energy cannot be stored.

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