Solar radiation on the surface of the Earth is abundant and a zero-carbon energy source. Solar energy is harnessed by the use of various equipment that has a low carbon footprint. Besides, solar power is associated with the solar panels we see sitting on residential rooftops. On the contrary, the adoption of commercialized solar energy harvesting spans a variety of applications providing an astounding supply of energy to the world. Below are some of the technologies to harvest solar energy.
Photovoltaic Solar Panels
PV solar panels use the sun’s power to generate a flow of electricity. It is the widely adopted method of solar energy harvesting today. Furthermore, these panels are made of a material that when exposed to sunlight, they use the heat and light to loose electrons. After that, they create an electric current in a process known as the photovoltaic effect. The sizes vary from square centimeters to some square meters. Instinctively, the larger the surface area exposed to the sunlight, the more solar energy being harvested.
Thermal Energy Harvesting
The sun produces a wide spectrum of radiation of various wavelengths, including infrared. In turn, this spectrum efficiently transfers thermal energy to physiques that can absorb it. The elements that can absorb this thermal electromagnetic energy are known as black. Therefore, an ideal black body can absorb and emit all wavelengths of the electromagnetic radiation spectrum. On a residential scale, thermal energy is often used in water heating systems. However, electromagnetic radiation energy is less suitable for the generation of power on an industrial scale.
Solar Water Heaters
The solar water heater is commonly implemented in sunny climates all over the world. The heater system uses a pump to circulate cold water through a black body panel. Moreover, visually, it resembles a PV solar panel. In this case, the black surface absorbs the thermal energy and then cooled by the circulated water and, as a result, heating the water. Therefore the water is continually circulated through the loop to create warm water throughout the solar system. Besides, these systems require storage tanks to be above the solar absorption source.
Solar energy harvesting technology is progressively being utilized as an alternative to electricity that is generated by fossil fuel. The various methods to harvest solar energy use the sun to perform work in a certain way, something previously depended on electricity. An increase in process optimization and efficiencies will continue to be invented, and solar harvesting may eliminate the need for fossil fuel.