Solar Energy | Definition, Advantages, Disadvantages & Applications

By | October 13, 2018

In this article we will learn following things about solar energy.

  • What is solar energy?
  • Its uses or applications
  • Methods to harness it
  • Its advantages and disadvantages (or limitations)

What is solar energy?

Solar energy is the radiant light and heat which we get from the sun.

There are several methods to harness it for our use and they are.

  • Artificial photosynthesis
  • Molten salt power plants
  • Solar architecture
  • Solar thermal energy
  • Photovoltaics
  • Solar heating

Solar energy is one of the most important forms of renewable energy. Its large magnitude makes it highly appealing source of electricity. Its technologies can be broadly characterized into two types.

  1. Active solar
  2. Passive solar

Active solar techniques include following techniques to harness solar energy.

  • Solar water heating
  • Concentrated solar power
  • Photovoltaic systems

Passive solar techniques include following techniques to harness solar energy.

  • Designing spaces that naturally circulate air
  • Selecting materials with favorable thermal mass or light-dispersing properties
  • Orienting a building to the Sun

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Advantages (or benefits) of solar energy

It has several advantages and some of them are:

  • It will keep fossil fuel prices lower than otherwise
  • It will lower the costs of mitigating global warming
  • It will reduce pollution
  • It will enhance sustainability
  • It is inexhaustible source of energy
  • It is mostly import-independent resource
  • It will increase countries’ energy security and will make it energy independent
  • Environment friendly source of green energy
  • Virtually very low maintenance cost

Disadvantages (or limitations) of solar energy

It has some limitations and they are:

  • High initial cost
  • Dependence on weather
  • Its storage is expensive
  • Its equipment requires a lot of space
  • Efficiency of energy conversion is very low
  • Dependent on location and sunlight availability
  • Low production in winter

Applications (or uses) of solar energy

It has various applications, some of them are:

  • Molten salt technology
  • Water treatment
  • Process heat
  • Cooking
  • Heating, cooling and ventilation
  • Water heating
  • Electricity production
  • Architecture and urban planning
  • Agriculture and horticulture
  • Transport
  • Fuel production

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