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Overview ::
solar energy is radiant light and heat from the sun harnessed using a range of ever-evolving
technologies such as solar heating, solar photovoltaics, solar thermal energy, solar
architecture and artificial photosynthesis.
It is an important source of renewable energy and its technologies are broadly
characterized as either

a) passive solar b) active solar depending on the way they capture and

distribute solar energy or convert it into solar power. Active solar techniques include the use
of photovoltaic systems, concentrated solar power and solar water heating 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. Solar energy is considered environmentally friendly because the sun is a natural energy source
that does not require the burning of fossil fuels and the associated air emissions. In addition, it is
considered renewable since the energy produced from the sun does not deplete any natural
resources, and will never run out.
Solar energy, however, is what is called an intermittent source, which means it is
not always available. When it is cloudy or raining, the sun is unavailable to provide light, and solar
energy systems are unable to produce energy. Therefore, many systems are designed with either
some kind of energy storage feature, or a backup source of energy, such as the electric grid. These
additional features allow the end user to continue to operate even when the sun is not shining.

Energy from the Sun

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.

Solar Energy Technologies:

Photovoltaic Systems
Producing electricity directly from sunlight.

Solar Hot Water

Heating water with solar energy.

Solar Electricity
Using the sun's heat to produce electricity.

Passive Solar Heating and Daylighting

Using solar energy to heat and light buildings.

Solar Process Space Heating and Cooling

Industrial and commercial uses of the sun's heat.

1.. Photovoltaic

(solar cell) Systems

Solar cells convert sunlight directly into electricity. Solar cells are often used to power calculators and
watches. They are made of semiconducting materials similar to those used in computer chips. When
sunlight is absorbed by these materials, the solar energy knocks electrons loose from their atoms,
allowing the electrons to flow through the material to produce electricity. This process of converting
light (photons) to electricity (voltage) is called the photovoltaic (PV) effect.
Solar cells are typically combined into modules that hold about 40 cells; a number of these
modules are mounted in PV arrays that can measure up to several meters on a side. These flat-plate
PV arrays can be mounted at a fixed angle facing south, or they can be mounted on a tracking
device that follows the sun, allowing them to capture the most sunlight over the course of a day.
Several connected PV arrays can provide enough power for a household; for large electric utility or
industrial applications, hundreds of arrays can be interconnected to form a single, large PV system.

2.. Solar Hot Water

The shallow water of a lake is usually warmer than the deep water. That's because the sunlight can
heat the lake bottom in the shallow areas, which in turn, heats the water. It's nature's way of solar
water heating. The sun can be used in basically the same way to heat water used in buildings and
swimming pools.
Most solar water heating systems for buildings have two main parts: a solar collector and a storage
tank. The most common collector is called a flat-plate collector. Mounted on the roof, it consists of a
thin, flat, rectangular box with a transparent cover that faces the sun. Small tubes run through the
box and carry the fluid either water or other fluid, such as an antifreeze solution to be heated.
The tubes are attached to an absorber plate, which is painted black to absorb the heat. As heat
builds up in the collector, it heats the fluid passing through the tubes. The storage tank then holds the
hot liquid. It can be just a modified water heater, but it is usually larger and very well-insulated.
Systems that use fluids other than water usually heat the water by passing it through a coil of tubing
in the tank, which is full of hot fluid.
Solar water heating systems can be either active or passive, but the most common are active
systems. Active systems rely on pumps to move the liquid between the collector and the storage
tank, while passive systems rely on gravity and the tendency for water to naturally circulate as it is
Swimming pool systems are simpler. The pool's filter pump is used to pump the water through a solar
collector, which is usually made of black plastic or rubber. And of course, the pool stores the hot

3.. Solar Electricity

Many power plants today use fossil fuels as a heat source to boil water. The steam from the boiling
water rotates a large turbine, which activates a generator that produces electricity. However, a new
generation of power plants, with concentrating solar power systems, uses the sun as a heat source.
There are three main types of concentrating solar power systems: parabolic-trough, dish/engine,
and power tower.
Parabolic-trough systems concentrate the sun's energy through long rectangular, curved (U-shaped)
mirrors. The mirrors are tilted toward the sun, focusing sunlight on a pipe that runs down the center
of the trough. This heats the oil flowing through the pipe. The hot oil then is used to boil water in a
conventional steam generator to produce electricity.

4.. Solar Process Space Heating and Cooling

Commercial and industrial buildings may use the same solar technologies - photovoltaics, passive
heating, daylighting, and water heating - that are used for residential buildings. These nonresidential
buildings can also use solar energy technologies that would be impractical for a home. These
technologies include ventilation air preheating, solar process heating, and solar cooling.

Many large buildings need ventilated air to maintain indoor air quality. In cold climates, heating this
air can use large amounts of energy. A solar ventilation system can preheat the air, saving both
energy and money. This type of system typically uses a transpired collector, which consists of a
thin, black metal panel mounted on a south-facing wall to absorb the sun's heat. Air passes through
the many small holes in the panel. A space behind the perforated wall allows the air streams from
the holes to mix together. The heated air is then sucked out from the top of the space into the
ventilation system.
Solar process heating systems are designed to provide large quantities of hot water or space heating
for nonresidential buildings. A typical system includes solar collectors that work along with a pump, a
heat exchanger, and/or one or more large storage tanks. The two main types of solar collectors used
an evacuated-tube collector and a parabolic-trough collector - can operate at high
temperatures with high efficiency. An evacuated-tube collector is a shallow box full of many glass,
double-walled tubes and reflectors to heat the fluid inside the tubes. A vacuum between the two
walls insulates the inner tube, holding in the heat. Parabolic troughs are long, rectangular, curved (Ushaped) mirrors tilted to focus sunlight on a tube, which runs down the center of the trough. This
heats the fluid within the tube.
The heat from a solar collector can also be used to cool a building. It may seem impossible to use
heat to cool a building, but it makes more sense if you just think of the solar heat as an energy
source. Your familiar home air conditioner uses an energy source, electricity, to create cool air. Solar
absorption coolers use a similar approach, combined with some very complex chemistry tricks, to
create cool air from solar energy. Solar energy can also be used with evaporative coolers (also
called "swamp coolers") to extend their usefulness to more humid climates, using another chemistry
trick called desiccant cooling

Usage statistics of Solar Energy.. (in India)

With about 300 clear sunny days in a year, Indias theoretical solar power reception,
just on its land area, is about 5 PWh/year (i.e. = 5 trillion kWh/yr ~ 600 TW). The daily
average solar energy incident over India varies from 4 to 7 kWh/m2 with about 1500
2000 sunshine hours per year, depending upon location. This is far more than current
total energy consumption.
The India Energy Portal estimates that if 10% of the land
were used for harnessing solar energy, the installed solar capacity would be at
8,000GW, or around fifty times the current total installed power capacity in the country.
For example, even assuming 10% conversion efficiency for PV modules, it will still be
thousand times greater than the likely electricity demand in India by the end of the year

Applications of solar technology

Average insolation showing land area (small black dots) required to replace the world primary energy supply
with solar electricity (18 TW is 568 Exajoule, EJ, per year). Insolation for most people is from 150 to 300
W/m2 or 3.5 to 7.0 kWh/m2/day.

Solar energy refers primarily to the use of solar radiation for practical ends. However, all renewable
energies, other than geothermal and tidal, derive their energy from the sun.
Solar technologies are broadly characterized as either passive or active depending on the way they
capture, convert and distribute sunlight. Active solar techniques use photovoltaic panels, pumps, and
fans to convert sunlight into useful outputs. Passive solar techniques include selecting materials with
favorable thermal properties, designing spaces that naturally circulate air, and referencing the
position of a building to the Sun. Active solar technologies increase the supply of energy and are
considered supply side technologies, while passive solar technologies reduce the need for alternate
resources and are generally considered demand side technologies. CSP-Stirling is known to have
the highest efficiency of all solar technologies (around 30%, compared to solar PV's approximately
15%) and is predicted to be able to produce the cheapest energy among all renewable energy
sources in high scale production and hot areas, semi-deserts, etc.

Architecture and urban planning

Transport and reconnaissance

Agriculture and horticulture

Water heating

Water treatment (Small scale solar powered sewerage treatment plant)

Advantages and Disadvantages of solar energy..

1. Solar energy is free although there is a cost in the building of
collectors and other equipment required to convert solar energy
into electricity or hot water.
2. Solar energy does not cause pollution. However, solar collectors
and other associated equipment / machines are manufactured in
factories that in turn cause some pollution.
3. Solar energy can be used in remote areas where it is too
expensive to extend the electricity power grid.
4. Many everyday items such as calculators and other low power
consuming devices can be powered by solar energy effectively.
5. It is estimated that the worlds oil reserves will last for 30 to 40
years. On the other hand, solar energy is infinite (forever).


1. Solar energy can only be harnessed when it is daytime and sunny.

2. Solar collectors, panels and cells are relatively expensive to
manufacture although prices are falling rapidly.
3. Solar power stations can be built but they do not match the
power output of similar sized conventional power stations. They are
also very expensive.
4. In countries such as the UK, the unreliable climate means that
solar energy is also unreliable as a source of energy. Cloudy skies
reduce its effectiveness.
5. Large areas of land are required to capture the suns energy.
Collectors are usually arranged together especially when electricity
is to be produced and used in the same location.
6. Solar power is used to charge batteries so that solar powered
devices can be used at night. However, the batteries are large and
heavy and need storage space. They also need replacing from time
to time.

The Sun provides a very abundant supply of energy that is available
to all of us. This energy from the Sun is completely under used. If we
covered only 4% of the worlds desert area with solar panels, this
would supply the same as all the worlds electricity today.
Considering how much we rely on fossil fuels this is far
underutilized. Solar energy from the Sun is available almost
anywhere on the planet. Though it is not always available depending
on the obvious weather conditions and time of day. It could
drastically change the way we make energy.