Basic Principles of Solar Energy

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The growing needs of energy of our modern lifestyle combined with the depletion of most of the conventional source of energy on this planet have let us to face an unprecedented energy crisis. In order to sustain our life style we need to keep on inventing new sources of energy since most of the existing sources of energy will get exhausted only in a few years time. Use of renewable sources of energy provides a solution to this energy crisis. Renewable sources of energy refer to those sources of energy that get replenished at a rate higher than the one in which they are used. One of the most known of the renewable sources of energy is the solar energy.

The sun is the ultimate source of energy and mass to the entire solar system. Every source of energy on our planet owes its origin to the Sun on one way or other. Thus when we are harnessing any source of energy on the planet, we are actually using the energy that has found its way from the sun. However, the term solar energy refers to the energy directly harnessed from the solar radiation.

Depending upon the principle by which the solar energy is harnessed, the solar energy is classified into passive solar energy and active solar energy. When the energy from the sun is harnessed using photovoltaic panels or solar thermal collectors, the technique of extracting the energy is called active solar technique. On the other hand, techniques to optimize the energy received from the sun to meet our regular needs so as to reduce the need for alternate resources are called passive solar techniques. This includes techniques such as orienting a building to the sun, selecting materials with favorable thermal mass and light dispersing properties.

However, we need to keep some points on our mind before we use solar energy. The economic viability and technical feasibility of solar energy depends upon the amount of solar radiation in the area where we intend to use this form of energy. The other factors which determine the viability of solar energy are the geographical location of the place, time of the day, the particular season, local landscape and local weather.

The round shape of the earth makes the solar radiation hit the earth surface at different angles. However, when the sun's rays are slanted, they become more diffused and scattered. The diffused and scattered radiation from the sun has less concentration of solar energy.

Also, the amount of solar energy received depends upon the time of the year. At the summer seasons a larger amount of solar energy is received as at that time of the year, the days are longer. Also in that part of the year, the sun is almost overhead, leading to a higher concentration of the solar energy.

Pollution reduces the concentration of solar energy in the solar radiation due to the presence of materials such as dust, pollutants, etc. The solar energy is also diffused by materials such as water vapor, air molecules, clouds etc.

Solar energy is the most reliable of all forms of renewable energy. This energy must be harnessed using appropriate techniques to obtain maximum benefit out of it.If you'd like to know more about biofuels, check out

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