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Solar Energy.

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D. Vitcheva, E. Bennett, J. Fleury

Solar Energy

   Energy is a vital factor and nothing can live and work without it. That’s why the subject on energy is very much actual and a source of heated discussions. Many new projects are created by big organizations aiming the best exploitation of resources.

Energy is divided into two types: renewable (or sustainable)-those can be exploited over and over again and non-renewable, which are scarce, finite. Examples for renewable energy are wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric energy. Examples for non-renewable energy are fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas), nuclear energy and fuel wood. However non-renewable resources are mainly the sources of our energy due to the cheaper price and the large quantities of energy they produce. But on the other hand nowadays we are concerned about their scarcity and the harm they cause on our environment. That’s why we try to introduce progressively the use of renewable types of energy as solar energy for example.  

Sun is the primary source of the Earth’s energy. Solar energy is produced by the Sun and is the result of nuclear fusion reactions. It propagates itself into our entire galaxy, and only a small amount of it reaches the Earth.

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2. Solar hot water and space heating:

Solar Heating Devices directly absorb the sun's radiation with specially-coated absorbers to heat air or water for use in a building. The collectors are placed on the roof of the building, to get as much light as possible. Solar water heating systems can be either "open loop," in which the water to be heated flows directly through the rooftop collector, or "closed loop," in which the collector is filled with an antifreeze solution that passes through a heat exchanger mounted in or around your normal water heater.  (Closed loop systems can be used anywhere in the US, even in freezing conditions, while open loop devices must be drained during freezing conditions.)  During the day, in good weather, your water can be heated entirely by the sun!  In any weather, the heating system can back up your existing heater, reducing overall energy costs. image00.jpg

This way of heating the water will reduce the need for conventional water heating by about two-thirds. The water can then be used directly or can circulate in the house, heating many rooms. This technology can be used for large commercial and industrial facilities. It is very much used in modern residences in the United States.

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In conclusion solar energy has the advantages of being a safe, polluting-free, efficient and limitless supply. Nowadays the world aims to exploit the advantages of solar energy and preserve its environment. Unfortunately the construction of solar “stations” is expensive and requires further advances in technology. Once the system is installed, there is very little work to do to maintain it (only in big solar plants do the modules and the panels move). However solar power can’t be used to produce great amounts of energy during a small period of time, like nuclear power can.

The efficiency of a photovoltaic cell is very low, of about 15%. This means that only 15% of the solar rays that reach the cell are         actually used to produce energy (the rest is reflected or lost).

As a consequence of the low efficiency, solar power is about three times more expensive to use than a conventional energy (gas, nuclear, coal…)

In countries like the UK where there isn’t much sun, it is even more difficult to use solar power. In winter, when the demand for electricity is very high, there is few solar energy produced because of the bad weather that hides the Sun, there are also less hours of daylight per day.

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