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What is solar energy?

It is never too late to approach a definition of what solar energy is and review the importance of its development and why at POWEN we are committed to decorating all the rooftops of the large Spanish cities and contributing to a cleaner and more sustainable society . It is clear that solar energy is understood as that which is generated by the sun, either by its light or by its heat, but…

What is solar energy?

Did you know that there are different types of solar energy depending on its origin and its processing ? If you want to know more about solar energy, we invite you to continue reading this article to discover new things.

The two great features of solar energy: renewable and clean

To say that solar energy is renewable affects the fact that it is inexhaustible . At least in the next 7,000 million years, which is the estimated life that the sun has left, we will continue to enjoy its light and heat. The idea of ​​solar energy as green or clean energy comes to highlight the fact that for its production it is not necessary to burn any type of fossil fuel, so no greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere.

The RAE tells us that sustainability is what can be maintained for a long time without depleting resources or causing serious damage to the environment . A definition that adapts perfectly to what we understand as solar energy.

Differences between photovoltaic solar energy and thermal solar energy

Thanks to technology we can obtain energy from the sun in two different ways . When solar energy is produced as a result of the light (or radiation) emitted by the sun, we are dealing with photovoltaic solar energy . Its capture is through panels and it can be stored in batteries. This energy is used for the self-consumption of electricity in homes and industries since it is the one used for electrical appliances or motors.

The light that the sun gives us is collected by photovoltaic solar panels that are made up of cells or solar cells. These transform light (photons) into electrical energy (electrons) thanks to the so-called photoelectric effect , by which certain materials absorb photons (light particles) and release electrons, thus generating an electric current.

For its part , solar thermal energy takes advantage of the heat that comes from the sun to heat fluids and keep them warm in water tanks. Heat is also captured through panels. The use of solar thermal energy is basically to heat water without the need to use thermoses and it is also used to air-condition homes and premises . Obviously this heating system is much more sustainable than coal or propane gas heating.

In this case, the heat is captured by panels or mirrors that absorb the sun’s rays through a receiver that reaches temperatures of up to 1,000 ºC and heats a fluid . This fluid is used either for heating and hot water circuits or to produce steam. The steam moves a turbine that will produce electricity, although it is not directly as photovoltaic panels do.

In any case, both technologies achieve very significant savings in electricity bills, since, if on one side we obtain electricity directly, on the other we will be reducing the electrical consumption of thermoses and heaters, appliances used to heat water in homes and that they are precisely the ones that consume the most kW.

Passive solar energy

There is a third type of solar energy that would be passive . This energy is the one that does not use any mechanism to collect and treat it, but is achieved thanks to bioclimatic architecture. Bioclimatic houses or buildings and PassivHaus that do not require active energy input are based on the ability of architects and engineers to use different materials and orientations that capture solar energy during the day to keep the construction warm at night, achieving perfect air conditioning at all times.

benefits of solar energy

Although there are other types of renewable energy such as wind, hydraulic or geothermal, solar energy is one of the easiest to produce. The benefits of solar energy are multiple. Next, we will see some of the most important:

  • Its price : It is one of the cheapest energies to produce since the price of solar plates and panels has been reduced significantly in recent years thanks to the high demand.
  • Energy independence : It favors greater energy independence not only for Spanish homes or dwellings, but is also a fundamental tool for many underdeveloped countries.
  • It is ecological : It helps prevent global warming, since it is an energy that does not emit greenhouse gases, thus fighting against climate change.
  • Renewable and inexhaustible : The sun’s energy is not finite in the short term and is available throughout the world for at least another 7 billion years.
  • Does not pollute : Its transformation into thermal or photovoltaic energy does not produce toxic substances or pollutants that harm the environment, neither for the air nor for the water. It is completely clean.
  • It generates local wealth : Since it is available anywhere on the planet, it avoids having to import energy, supporting employment and economic growth in the area.
  • Reusable : The surplus energy generated by these installations can be poured back into the network and used elsewhere or by other users.
  • Adaptable : From installations for domestic use in flats or chalets, collective installations in communities or industrial estates, to large solar plants.

Now that we know a little better the typology, operation and benefits of solar energy, it is a good time to take the step and bet definitively on this modality. Let yourself be advised by the POWEN specialists and we will inform you of all the possibilities that solar energy offers you.