This article is about all uses of solar energy. For the journal, see Solar Energy Journal.
The 19.9 MW Gemasolar solar plant in Spain features 15 hours of storage and can supply power 24 hours a day. Solar energy, radiant light and heat from the sun, has been harnessed by humans since ancient times using a range of ever-evolving technologies. Solar energy technologies include solar heating, solar photovoltaics, solar thermal electricity, solar architecture and artificial photosynthesis, which can make considerable contributions to solving some of the most urgent energy problems the world now faces. Solar technologies are broadly characterized as either passive solar or active solar depending on the way they capture, convert and distribute solar energy. Active solar techniques include the use of photovoltaic panels and solar thermal collectors to harness the energy. Passive solar techniques include orienting a building to the Sun, selecting materials with favorable thermal mass or light dispersing properties, and designing spaces that naturally circulate air. In 2011, the International Energy Agency said that "the development of affordable, inexhaustible and clean solar energy technologies will have huge longer-term benefits. It will increase countries’ energy security through reliance on an indigenous, inexhaustible and mostly import-independent resource, enhance sustainability, reduce pollution, lower the costs of mitigating climate change, and keep fossil fuel prices lower than otherwise. These advantages are global. Hence the additional costs of the incentives for early deployment should be considered learning investments; they must be wisely spent and need to be widely shared". Sustainable energy
* Cogeneration * Energy efficiency * Heat pump * Green building * Microgeneration * Passive solar
| Renewable energy
* Anaerobic digestion * Biomass * Geothermal * Hydroelectricity * Solar * Tidal * Wind
| Sustainable transport
* Carbon neutral fuel * Electric vehicle * Green vehicle * Plug-in hybrid
| Sustainable development portal * Renewable energy portal * Environment portal
| * v * t * e
Contents * 1 Energy from the Sun * 2 Applications of solar technology * 2.1 Architecture and urban planning * 2.2 Agriculture and horticulture * 2.3 Transport and reconnaissance * 2.4 Daylighting * 2.5 Solar thermal * 2.5.1 Water heating * 2.5.2 Heating, cooling and ventilation * 2.5.3 Water treatment * 2.5.4 Cooking * 2.5.5 Process heat * 2.6 Electricity production * 2.6.1 Concentrated solar power * 2.6.2 Photovoltaics * 2.6.3 Others * 2.7 Fuel production * 3 Energy storage methods * 4 Development, deployment and economics * 5 ISO Standards * 6 See also * 7 Notes * 8 References * 9 External links
| Energy from the Sun
Main articles: Insolation and Solar radiation
About half the incoming solar energy reaches the Earth's surface. The Earth receives 174 petawatts (PW) of incoming solar radiation (insolation) at the upper atmosphere. Approximately 30% is reflected back to space while the rest is absorbed by clouds, oceans and land masses. The spectrum of solar light at the Earth's surface is mostly spread across the visible and near-infrared ranges with a small part in the near-ultraviolet. Earth's land surface, oceans and atmosphere absorb solar radiation, and this raises their temperature. Warm air containing evaporated water from the oceans rises, causing atmospheric circulation or convection. When the air reaches a high altitude, where the temperature is low, water vapor condenses into clouds, which rain onto the Earth's surface, completing the water cycle. The latent heat of water condensation amplifies convection, producing atmospheric phenomena such as wind, cyclones and anti-cyclones. Sunlight...
References: Primary energy use (2009) | 510 EJ |
Electricity (2009) | 62.5 EJ |
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