Solar energy is the source of energy produced through heat emitted via solar radiation . By means of specific equipment, especially photovoltaic cells and solar panels, the thermal energy emitted by solar radiation is transformed into electrical energy, thus being distributed to end consumers. This source of energy is considered infinite, renewable and clean, as it generates little impact on the natural environment and has ample capacity for regeneration.
How does it work?
It works by capturing solar radiation , especially by photovoltaic cells but also by heaters and solar power plants. The thermal energy captured from solar radiation is transformed into electrical energy by means of this equipment. Thus, it can be distributed to consumer centers.
What are the types of solar energy?
There are basically two types, which differ based on the way this energy is transformed. Are they:
- Photovoltaic : direct conversion between solar radiation and electrical energy occurs. This conversion is carried out by means of so-called photovoltaic cells, structures composed of semiconductors, such as silicon, which generate electricity based on the heat of solar radiation.
- Heliothermic : its main characteristic is the transformation of solar energy into thermal. Through the solar panels, the heat generated by the sun’s radiation is concentrated, heating the generating structures. Thus, there is the generation of electrical energy through the production of thermal energy from the Sun.
The main advantage is its classification as a renewable source of energy, that is, it has wide availability and capacity for regeneration . This type of energy produces minimal environmental impacts , thus being considered a clean way to generate electricity.
Power plants and solar panels do not produce atmospheric pollutants, do not consume large amounts of environmental resources and do not produce excessive waste. In addition, the installation of solar energy generating structures is quite simple , even in very restricted geographic spaces, such as urban centers and roofs of homes.
Although it is considered a clean source of energy, it is not immune to impacts on the environment, especially linked to the construction of large power plants that generate this energy source. The removal of vegetation for the installation of plants and the consumption of minerals for the manufacture of panels are consequences of using this source.
In addition, an important disadvantage is its high cost of installation and energy production . The technologies used in this source are still expensive and inaccessible to a large part of the population. Still, there is a lack of public policies to support its use, especially in residential contexts.
It should also be noted that, as it is a source highly dependent on climatic conditions, solar energy produces very variable results in terms of energy generation . Geographical regions with low insolation rates are not indicated for the installation of this type of energy source on a large scale. In addition, there is still a lack of technologies regarding greater efficiency and storage capacity of this type of energy.
Solar energy in the world
It, due to its renewable and sustainable appeal, has been expanding significantly around the world. This source is often seen as a way to diversify the energy matrix of countries, in addition to generating low environmental and social impacts on the environment. However, there are certain limitations to its use worldwide, with emphasis on the influence of geographic issues and its high installation cost.
Currently, according to the most up-to-date data from the world’s energy entities, only 1% of the global energy matrix is provided by solar sources . However, this index should increase in the coming years, worldwide, due to the high investment in so-called green energies and the concern with climate changes resulting from global warming . The main countries producing this energy in the world are: China, United States, Japan, Germany, India and Italy.