Solar energy systems depend on sunlight to produce power.
If you think that all your energy-related problems (like car fuel, electricity) are solved since energy from the sun is readily available and long lasting – think again.
It is not that easy to capture or collect sun’s energy and then convert it into a usable energy.
You need a technology to harness and store solar energy and make it usable for different types of equipment or machines.
If not for technological advances done over the years, solar power will still be one of the last options as an alternative source of energy. Today, it has become one of the most sought after back-up power systems for houses, companies and industries.
Sunlight can be broken down into light and heat and there are a number of solar technologies that were developed to maximize these energy resources.
Solar power systems using heat energy
There are solar energy systems that use heat energy from the sun for a number of applications. For sure, you are aware of a solar tubes that acts as heater in commercial buildings and homes. In some countries, these same systems are also used for pool heating.
Heat energy from the sun can also be used to treat salty or brackish water. The process is called solar distillation.
Heat energy from the sun is also used for cooking, pasteurization and drying of food solar dryer devices are becoming popular worldwide. To accomplish this, sunlight is collected in a parabolic dish and concentrated onto a container. Concentrated sunlight can raise the temperature of a container to as high as 320 degrees Celsius.
Greenhouses are also popular applications of heat energy. The greenhouse effect accelerates the growth of plants and fruits in a natural and healthy way.
So how does conversion of solar to heat energy work? A solar heater uses a frame of pipes with heated water or air passing through it. In this solar collector, the heated water is a bypass product of the system and can also be stored for domestic use. The application of this type of solar energy systems is easy to setup and implement. Think of it as a typical high-school science experiment designed for medium to larger scale use. More on solar thermal energy
Solar energy systems using light energy
Conversion of solar to light energy is the most popular application of a solar energy systems. Sun rays or light energy is collected and converted into electricity using photovoltaic cells. The process of the conversion of light to electricity is called photoelectric effect and there are certain semiconductors that can do this. Examples of these semiconductors are selenium and silicon.
Solar energy systems also use sunlight to provide free and natural lighting inside houses and buildings. These systems can either be day lighting or hybrid solar lighting systems.
A day lighting system uses architectural designs that maximize natural lighting such as vents on the roof. Hybrid solar lighting systems, on the other hand, collects sunlight using mirrors, which passes the light energy to fiber optic wiring for distribution.