The Power of Solar Energy Essay

2016 Words 9 Pages
The Power of Solar Energy

In today’s world, the growth of energy demands is exploding. Many of the energy sources that supply society with power currently run on non-renewable resources such as oil and coal. These resources also pollute our environment. Other resources such as hydro and wind power are not as reliable as they fluctuate in availability due to environmental conditions. It is important to investigate alternative resources of energy as the current forms and output will not sustain the world at the current increase in societal demands. One viable and almost unlimited source of energy is the sun. Solar panels make use of the sun’s light hitting earth everyday and convert it to a usable form of energy and have the
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The strength of the solar energy available at any point on the earth depends, in a complicated but predictable way, on the day of the year, the time of day, and the latitude of the collection point. Furthermore, the amount of solar energy that can be collected depends on the orientation of the collecting object.

Uses and Collection Methods

Solar energy can also be used to make electricity. There are several approaches to concentrating and collecting sufficient solar energy to run a heat engine/generator. One approach is the parabolic trough design, which concentrates the solar energy on a tube (receiver) running the length of the trough and located at its focal point. A heat transfer fluid circulating through the tube absorbs the heat from the concentrated solar radiation and conducts the heat at 600 degrees Fahrenheit through an insulated pipe to a heat exchanger (steam generator) to make the steam for the turbine. The heat transfer fluid, having given up its heat to make steam, is re-circulated to the solar trough. If necessary, natural gas may be used to hybridize parabolic trough systems, augmenting the available solar energy or to run the plant at night, which can be a disadvantage when there is a shortage of natural gas in the future. This disadvantage can be overcome however if improved storage devices were used to all usage at night.

Another central receiver design uses a near circular field of mirrors

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