Solar Energy

Tiara Gaines
Envs 201
Renewable Energy
Solar Energy

According to, solar energy is defined as “energy derived from the sun in the form of solar radiation.”   Solar energy is harnessed from the radiant power produced by the sun’s rays.   From there the energy is converted into electrical current.   Solar energy uses a range of ever evolving technologies such as solar heating, photovoltaic, solar thermal energy, etc.  
Solar technologies are characterized as either passive solar or active solar depending on the way they capture, convert and distribute solar energy.   According to Wikipedia, “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 passive solar building designs, windows and floors are made to collect, store, and distribute solar energy in the form of heat in the winter; and to reject solar heat in the summer.   For passive solar, climate is a key to take into consideration.   Other considerations include window placement and size, glazing type, thermal insulation, thermal mas, and shading.   Existing building can also be adapted, or refitted.  
Active solar systems use additional equipment.   They consist of flat plate PV panels that are usually mounted and remain stationary.   Photovoltaic (PV) is a method of generating electrical power by converting sunlight into direct current electricity using semiconducting materials that exhibit the photovoltaic effect. A photovoltaic system employs solar panels composed of a number of solar cells to supply usable solar power. (Google) Some PV is designed to track the sun throughout the day.   Active solar collectors contain either air or a liquid as a conductor.   Air collectors are of course referred to as “air collectors,” while liquid based types are called “hydronic collectors.”   The advanced design makes an active solar heating system the most cost...