For instance, there is
power. The photovoltaic definition of solar energy is a
creates energy utilizing atoms which are caused to move around when
struck by photons, which are tiny particles that are released by the
sun. These photons are always striking the surface of the earth, and
indeed all surfaces, and they are what is partly responsible for the
sun causing things to heat up.
The amount of photons
striking a surface
at one time depends on the amount of them that was released by the sun
at any given time. The sun releases many more photons during a solar
storm or especially immediately following a solar flare. These photons
are also sent out at much faster speeds, and therefore reach the earth
much faster during a solar flare or solar storm.
These photons are also
what is responsible for the phenomenon known as the aurora borealis or
Northern Lights, which is why this phenomenon is so visible a few days
after any major solar flare or solar eruption. Below we will look
not only at photovoltaic solar energy, but also the other types of
energy and the different uses of each.
Types of Solar Energy
Uses of Photovoltaic Energy
Photovoltaic solar energy,
as previously mentioned, is energy created
when the sun strikes certain particles and causes them to
accelerate. This is normally achieved by using silicon
solar panels, and these panels are
typically what people think about when they think of a solar power
are used on homes and businesses
to provide them electricity. They are also used on many signs you will
see on the roads. They are even used in large scale solar power plants
around the world.
Thermal Energy and Its Impact on the World
The definition of solar
energy includes solar
thermal energy, which is
using the heat provided by the sun for a variety of purposes.
Using Solar Energy to Heat
Whether it is used heat
water for a home or to provide hot water for a
pool or hot tub, solar thermal energy is a very good way of providing
hot water. The majority of solar
thermal water heaters utilize a black
material which absorbs the sun’s heat and then transfers it directly to
Heating Your Home with
Solar thermal energy can
also be used to heat your home in a variety of
ways. Solar collectors
are used to store the heat from the sun, and
this is then pumped throughout your home to help heat it. This is
considered active solar
There is also passive
which involves letting the sunlight pass into a room where it is
stored. This is basically how a greenhouse functions.
has been used to heat homes and buildings ever since the time of the
Ancient Greeks, and is still very much used in green architecture today.
Concentrated Solar Power
|The definition of
concentrated solar power is a device which collects
and concentrates the heat from the sun. Therefore, the same technology
involved in passive solar heating is also referred to as concentrated
solar power. This technology is used in solar
cookers, which are a
great way of cooking food or boiling water in case of emergencies or
while outdoors on a camping trip.
They are also used in
poor parts of the world to allow the local people to cook food without
having to cut down trees for wood, which leads to deforestation and a
rise in pollution due to the burning of wood. These devices can also be
used to boil water to ensure that people always have clean water to
drink. While solar cookers are quite handy, they are far from the only
use of concentrated solar power.
Concentrated solar power
is also the technology that is being looked to
for some of the world’s largest solar power plants. A concentrated
solar power plant utilizes a large
array of parabolic mirrors which are
all controlled by a heliostat
which allows them to precisely track the
These mirrors concentrate
and focus the sun’s light and heat onto
a focal point, similarly to the way a child may use a magnifying glass
to light a leaf on fire. The heat that is generated at this focal point
is then transferred to water to cause it to boil and thus create steam.
This steam is then finally used to power a steam generator
The steam generators in
these plants work exactly the
same way as the steam generators used in coal fired power plants,
except that the energy created is entirely done so with clean,
renewable energy. The largest such concentrated power plant, Andasol,
was only recently made operational in early 2012 and is located in the
Andalusia region of Spain.
This type of concentrated
power station may
very well be the way of the future, as much more energy is able to be
created in a smaller area than with a traditional photovoltaic power
plant which requires a much larger array of solar panels.
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