Technologies for harnessing solar energy

Harnessing the sun’s energy efficiently is not an easy feat. The sunlight is so widespread that finding the most effective way of capturing it requires advanced knowledge and technology. There are several technologies for utilizing solar energy and all are unique and are dedicated for specific applications.

First up are the photovoltaic cells or commonly known as solar cells. These are probably the best known way of harnessing the sun’s energy. Whenever one talk about solar power, the first things that come to mind include having panels and panels of photovoltaic cells or PV. These cells contain semi-conductors, commonly are made from silicon, which absorbs the light from the sun. When sunlight hit the surface of the silicon, new free electrons are created. As the electrons are channeled out of the silicon, electric current is created.

The second solar power technology is the concentrating solar power systems. This one involves using mirrors to reflect sunlight to one area. Some systems incorporate high tech devices to track the movement of the sun and adjust the mirrors to maximize the amount of sunlight the system receives. The sunlight reflected from the mirrors is used to heat or power a conventional power plant. Other systems channel the light from the mirrors to an area filled with photovoltaic cells.

There are several kinds of concentrated solar power systems, the most popular ones are the solar trough, parabolic dish and solar power tower. The solar trough uses large, U-shaped (parabolic) reflectors to point the sunlight to a tower at the center of the mirrors. At the center tower, hot oil is heated by the sun’s energy and help boil water to create steam which is then used to power convention plants.

The power tower system uses the same concept as solar troughs. Mirrors are used to reflect sunlight to a center tower where a liquid is heated and utilized for the creation of steam which will power a power turbine. The parabolic dish system uses mirrored dishes to focus and concentrate sunlight onto a receiver. The size of the dish varies but it is commonly 10 times bigger than an ordinary cable satellite dish.

Another solar power technology used today is the solar water heating systems. This is a simple one. The process involves collecting the energy directly from the sun to heat water or liquids which in turn heats up the water. This is more common in households are ideal for family use.

In order to capture the sunlight, solar panels have to be installed in your home or in the place where you will be needing hot water like a swimming pool area. You will need a big space for this but in the long run, you will be able to save lots of money from your electric bill.

For commercial establishments, an ideal solar power technology is the transpired solar collector or otherwise known as the solar wall. It involves using perforated solar collectors where outside air passes before it enters the building. These are but a few of the technologies around which can be used for utilizing the power of the sun. The technologies for harnessing solar energy continue to evolve as new technologies and discoveries are being accomplished. Everything might change in a few years time. Plus, the whole solar power technologies will become more price competitive which will benefit the general consumers.

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