What is Solar energy: Definition and 85 Discussions

Solar energy is radiant light and heat from the Sun that is harnessed using a range of ever-evolving technologies such as solar heating, photovoltaics, solar thermal energy, solar architecture, molten salt power plants and artificial photosynthesis.It is an essential source of renewable energy, and its technologies are broadly characterized as either passive solar or active solar depending on how 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.
The large magnitude of solar energy available makes it a highly appealing source of electricity. The United Nations Development Programme in its 2000 World Energy Assessment found that the annual potential of solar energy was 1,575–49,837 exajoules (EJ). This is several times larger than the total world energy consumption, which was 559.8 EJ in 2012.In 2011, the International Energy Agency said that "the development of affordable, inexhaustible and clean solar energy technologies will have huge longer-term benefits. It will increase countries' energy security through reliance on an indigenous, inexhaustible, and mostly import-independent resource, enhance sustainability, reduce pollution, lower the costs of mitigating global warming, and keep fossil fuel prices lower than otherwise. These advantages are global. Hence the additional costs of the incentives for early deployment should be considered learning investments; they must be wisely spent and need to be widely shared".

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  1. G

    Do personal PV panels make sense considering the grid "cleanliness"?

    Hello Physics Forums! It is only my second post here, so sorry if I am not perfectly following the rules... We were wondering with some colleagues a few hours ago, what is the threshold where PV panels are adding a carbon footprint to the electricity generated on the grid considering the...
  2. Grinkle

    Electronics Rule of thumb for derating Solar Energy off-grid energy systems

    I am working on a sanity check for capacity vs load and if anyone here has experience with off-grid solar, any feedback would be much appreciated. The application is to run a fridge and a modem off-grid on a piece of land in New Mexico. I read that in December (worst case month) the area gets...
  3. amazingjoe

    Could you use Solar to power a DC to AC Inverter? (Description below)

    I'd like to take Solar Panel power output and use it to power an AC outlet on the ultra-cheap. I know a lot of people use Solar to connect to a purpose built inverter and also have a battery somewhere in the mix to provide a stable output but wondering if the following (using the assumptions...
  4. B

    Why Are Solar Panels 21-22% efficient? How can efficiency improved?

    How efficient are solar panels? How can their efficiency improve? Besides their benefits, what are the ecological impacts of solar energy?
  5. E

    I Unleashing Solar Energy: The Potential of Mirrored Circles and Solar Panels

    Now before i take a ton of beating I'm not a Physicist this thread was a google command away looking for a physicists. I am an entrepreneur from the Blockchain world and before that the IT world. Now with the Current World Economic Forum, green bonds and saving our planet conversations i would...
  6. P

    Is Wall-Mounted Solar Production More Efficient in Winter at High Latitudes?

    I live at 60 degrees north. On december 22nd the sun is only 8 degrees above the horizon at noon. Here lots of people say they would go off grid if they just could have a reliable electricity production during the winter. All the sellers of solar cells talks about maximizing the cells production...
  7. B

    Transformation of solar energy into heat

    I have one project in my mind bu tI have no eductaion in this topic. please help. question is: if there is container of water. and we have certain number of solar rays getting into this container how does process of water warm up look like comparing: 1. direct sun rays into water vs 2. on...
  8. Nguyen Son

    Solid State Finding some Solar Energy books/articles

    Hi everybody, I'm working on a Solar Energy project and I'm a newbie in this field. Could you suggest some good intro books/articles and PV system simulation books? (I'm using MATLAB) Note that my major in university are Solid State Physics and Computational Physics so I will not hesitate to...
  9. N

    Total Solar Energy Rejected in Tints

    Total Solar Energy Rejected (TSER) = The percentage of total solar energy rejected by filmed glass. The higher this value, the less solar heat is transmitted. Here is something puzzling. I bought two tints to try on windows. The lower one on the left (NR Smoke 20) has Total Solar Energy...
  10. Marco Masi

    How much excess energy goes lost in solar and wind power stations?

    Since solar and wind power are fluctuating energy sources not all of it goes into the grid when the consumer power demand is lower than that actually produced. This is a well-known drawback of solar and wind energy that everyone talks about. What I never found is an assessment of how much of the...
  11. TheSlovakEngineer

    Storing Energy as Heat in Vegetable Oil

    Hello, I am writing a blog article about storing solar energy as heat. Can someone credible check this? I calculated I need 185.4 liters of vegetable oil to substitute a 6.4kWh battery if I had the same energy conversion (Tesla says 90%) and energy loss over time (no idea about this value) as...
  12. Richie Smash

    Calculate the solar energy incident on a reflecting surface in one second

    Homework Statement First I will say, I know I post here alot, but that is because I have exams coming up soon and I am a beginner, and It's crunch time, I'm self taught with only the help of friends and the internet. I'm currently doing a past examination as practice, but this one is much...
  13. N

    My Plug And Play Solar Energy System

    Hi everyone, i'd like to share my packaged (plug and play) solar system project that I assembled at home. I used mostly standard parts such as a charge controller, inverter, 12 Volt UPS battery, and a pair of NEMA 5-15 R power outlets. I built the automatic transfer switch and battery...
  14. S

    Research Topic suggestions for "nanostructured materials for solar energy conversion"

    I have selected a topic for my research work which is "nanostructured materials for solar energy conversion" I have read many of articles, most of which are about Li batteries but I want to do something new. Anyone who's in this field suggests something new.:smile:
  15. S

    Horizontal to tilted beam radiation

    Hello, the name's Mike and I'm a newbie here, I have a question pertaining to solar angles required to calculate a solar panel's hourly generation over one year. Total solar irradiance on a tilted surface equals the sum of the direct, diffuse and reflected component. In my case, reflection is...
  16. I

    I Increasing solar energy conversion efficiency

    You can burn a hole in paper using a magnifying glass and light. What would happen if you applied this large-scale on a solar panel?
  17. J

    Solar Energy Conversion at Night

    This is a fun thought experiment; Why not have space based mirrors to reflect light down to Earth at night to make solar do a little extra generating! The cost of solar is coming down and the cost of lifting things into orbit is coming down, so why not. Plus gold is very reflective, light...
  18. caters

    Completely solar powered engine -- is my design good?

    The engine of a solar car I am designing(for my fictional stories but I would like a scientific point of view on this) is literally a DC circuit combined with mechanical force. First of all, there is a rechargeable battery. I would say it is about 24V fully charged. There are 2 wires coming off...
  19. K

    What are the unanswered questions in materials science and high energy physics?

    Hi, I love learning, and from time to time I run into questions that google, local education institutes, and general information hunting at the library comes up fruitless. So to you physics forum I turn! About me - Father, husband, geek, techie, cancer survivor x2, retired soldier/IT...
  20. Allen_Wolf

    B Solar Energy at Mars: How Much Can Be Produced?

    How much energy can be produced by a solar cell in mars?
  21. Jefffff

    Thermodynamics of an Arctic greenhouse?

    For a business project, I'm looking into the viability of a greenhouse situated in Canada's far northern town of Iqaluit. The problem is how to mathematically simulate the internal air temperature of the greenhouse. What I already have are detailed 3D renderings of the greenhouse as well as all...
  22. S

    I Spectral Sensitivity and Solar Energy

    I'm trying to understand the link between Spectral Sensitivity and Solar Energy. To give some context, I've been learning about external quantum efficiency and spectral response. I found a lot of literature about spectral sensitivity, with one saying the units of it were Ampres / lux. Is...
  23. Jefffff

    How Long Will it Take to Heat Water Using a Solar Heater?

    Homework Statement A solar heater is used to warm 150 kg of water by 30 K. The intensity of solar radiation is 6000 Wm-2 and the area of the panels is 4.0 m2. The specific heat capacity of the water is 4.2 * 103 J/kg/K. Estimate the time this will take, assuming a solar panel efficiency of...
  24. F

    Solar thermal collectors in parallel

    I am using TRYNSYS software to simulate solar thermal cooling. I need to install many solar thermal panels (evacuated tubes) in parallel. However, there is no feature to do that automatically in the software; so I can only add them manually with complex piping and stuff. So my question is: Is...
  25. N

    Quantum What Are the Best Books on Photovoltaic Mechanisms?

    i want a list of books related to photovoltaics specifically the ones related to the mechanism
  26. J

    Can you get rid of alcohol in water (without keeping it)?

    Hello. My name is Jack. New member to the forums. Nice to meet you all! I have a general question that is part of a project I am working on for graduate school. I'm looking to distill water through solar energy in a closed solar still and am in a pickle finding a way to prevent alcohol from...
  27. I

    Urban heat effect: high solar reflectance and emittance

    Homework Statement "The urban heat island (UHI) effect refers to the phenomenon of a metropolitan or built up area which is significantly warmer than its surrounding areas." Using white paint in roofs increases the solar reflectance and decrease the thermal intake into a building. Question:-...
  28. amtech

    What is Australian Grid Code for solar energy integration?

    Hi, I am working on Solar systems in Australia. I want to know the Australian standards for grid connected PV systems for voltage, power factor, reactive power etc.
  29. B

    Are Alternative Kinetic and Hydro Storage Solutions Viable for Solar Energy?

    I have seen a lot of effort go into finding cheap, safe, high energy density phase change materials to store energy in the form of heat so power produced during the daytime may be delivered at night time. But I have an issue with storing energy in phase change materials. They rely on chemicals...
  30. B

    Can Solar Power Help Us Break Free from the Grid? A Scientist's Journey

    Thank you for the welcome Greg, I have been in electronics for many years, since 1965, and enjoyed every moment. I have done extensive work on magnetic ferrite core memories and frequency synthesisers in the military manpack arena. I have also done very low current circuitry using cmos devices...
  31. mnmman

    Sunlight Intensity Concentrator - Idea to boost solar energy

    So I had this idea and I want to run it by some people and see if it's 1) possible 2) worthy of pursuing further 3) a good idea. I don't have a degree in engineering or physics, I'm currently studying chemistry and am taking physics 2 (E&M) right now, so excuse me if I don't use the correct...
  32. P

    Passive offshore desalination plant

    I'm looking for ways to help mitigate California's drought. I've come up with two ideas. The first is a pipeline from Washington. The pipeline could be built with similar construction principles to an oil pipeline, which is a pretty mature process. The water could be sold to California...
  33. M

    Energy project for Universities implementation

    Hello all, this is my first time posting here so please excuse if this maybe isn't the appropriate thread to post this in but I figured it may be the most relevant. I am working on writing a proposal (small, just 450 words), that aims to address the energy efficiency of a university, ie...
  34. itchybrain

    Question about solar energy: angle of incidence

    My understanding is that the seasonal variation in temperature, amongst many other things, is a reflection of the Earth's tilt. Simply put, at the equator, sun rays fall "straight down" (100% vertical), and all of their energy hits the surface of the Earth. At different latitudes, these rays...
  35. L

    The Big Picture of Solar Research

    From a top-level view, what exactly are people working on in solar these days? Efficiency? Cost? Both? What are the parameters people really have to vary? Crystalline, polycrystalline, amorphous? Binary, ternary, quaternary compounds? Crystal structure (I have heard perovskites are a hot...
  36. H

    CPV Solar Systems - Why Use Less Photovoltaic Material?

    Homework Statement Hey guys Concentrated photovoltaic systems are known for high efficiency performance compared to that of a standard solar panel. But, what's confusing me is the reason behind using lesser photovoltaic material in CPV systems. Can't we use the solar panel of the same size...
  37. D

    Need help developing an idea, solar energy heliostats

    So i was wondering could you use two helio stats so there was two refraction points, the second one focusing the beam of solar energy back downwards? If so could you use multiple helio stats to meet at refraction point # 2 magnifying the beam that's pointed downwards? In theory it should work...
  38. H

    How Does Optical Equipment Boost Solar Panel Current?

    So I'm currently working on a project. Among the research questions, the following is one of them. "How can we use optical equipment such as mirrors to increase the output current?" I did some research into it but couldn't find its technical aspect. I know the straightforward fact that the...
  39. E

    Insolation, efficiency, and area

    Homework Statement What size FPC is needed to supply a family's domestic hot water needs in March in Denver, CO? Assume 80 gallons per day are needed (1gal=8.3 lb.) for the water and that the collector-heat exchanger system has an average efficiency of 40%. The collector tilt angle is equal to...
  40. H

    Solar energy into electrical energy through CPVs

    Homework Statement How much percent can CPVs (Concentrated Photovoltaic cells) convert solar energy into electrical energy? Homework EquationsThe Attempt at a Solution According to this page, "http://www.benefits-of-recycling.com/solarenergycars-2/ ", 20% of solar energy is converted into...
  41. J

    Heat transfer- Solar energy collector problem (took me 3 days, unsolve

    Homework Statement I have attached the problem as an image and they are same as below. The collector-receiver combination tested above is chosen for use in a solar thermal power plant. plant consists of 100 rows of collector-receiver modules. For the receiver efficiency use the value...
  42. O

    Amount of solar energy per day in a given location

    Hi, I'm trying to find equation for an amount of solar energy that given place (of some latitude) on Earth's surface receives during a given day. I know it can be derived by using basic geometry, but I just need it for some application and don't want to waste time and risk mistakes. So if you...
  43. D

    Using dark tiles to heat a pool via absorption of solar energy

    Hi everyone--first post, thanks for any guidance if I've posted in the wrong place. I've got a simple idea and I'm curious if it's worthwhile doing. How effective would putting a dark surface (perhaps black tiles, or black corrugated plastic) on the bottom of the pool, to warm the water by...
  44. E

    I, Robot (the book) Solar Energy Gathering anyone?

    In the i,Robot book -by Issac Asimov- one of the stories mention some sort of satellite for gathering solar energy. Basically this satellite will be stationary outside of our orbit, and it will gather solar energy and intensify it into a beam that is transmitted into a base on earth. I...
  45. F

    How Do You Measure Solar Energy with an Umbrella, Tin Can, and Thermometer?

    Hi, apparently you can calculate the amount of energy the sun delivers to each square meter of the Earth using an umbrella, tin can, water and a thermometer. You put the tin can outside with some water in it and put the umbrella over it until it reaches ambient temperature. You then take the...
  46. G

    Solar Energy in Space: Locomotion & Approaching Sun

    Is it possible to use solar energy to provide locomotion in Space? I appreciate that Solar sails have been mooted but is there any way that the energy from the sun can be used in such a way as to approach the source of the light?
  47. M

    Major to go into Solar Energy ( particularly Nanotechnology in Solar energy )

    Hi. I will be starting college this fall and I am interested in pursuing a career in Nanotechnology - particularly its application to Solar energy. I have not declared a major at this point and was wondering what would be the best major to help me go into this field. I hear EE and Chem eng are...
  48. S

    Calculating Cost Per Unit of Solar Energy from Data Sheet

    Homework Statement I don't know if this is a physics problem per se but its from physics class. So we were supposed to pick out a solar panel and figure out what is the cost per unit of energy for this form of solar energy? I know where supposed to use the data sheet for the panel that we...
  49. L

    Calculating Solar Energy at Earth's Distance from the Sun

    i have to come up with expression that governs the rate of solar energy incident upon the Earth with radius of Earth, Re, power output of Sun 4*10^26 and distance from Earth to Sun as 1.5*10^11. But i have no idea how to get the expression HELP
  50. R

    What is the efficiency of solar energy in geosynchronous orbit?

    I have been trying to find some values for how much watts per square meter there is of energy on the ground due to the sun, but everywhere there are different values ranging from 100-1000 Watts so I have no clue of what to believe... And also are these values per second/minute/day? So however...
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