Solar energy is the energy that is obtained from the Sun. It is an abundant and renewable source of energy. Since ancient times, solar energy has been used in various ways. Nowadays, due to concerns about global warming, climate change and the constant rise in energy prices, new ways are emerging and new technologies are being developed to use this energy in the best possible way.
Passive utilization of solar energy
Passive utilization of solar energy involves not using any mechanical or electrical devices, but using solar energy in a passive way, for example, the orientation of the house towards the south. The system for passive solar energy recovery most often relies on south-oriented windows that act like a collector and collect solar energy. The energy collected is distributed according to the basic laws of thermodynamics, which say that heat passes from warm to cold surfaces and spaces.
Active use of solar energy
Active solar energy utilization systems use additional devices and additional energy sources for starting the fan, pumps or other equipment necessary for solar energy to collect, preserve and convert to heat or electricity. When solar energy is absorbed, that energy is stored so it can be used later. Smaller solar systems can supply households with electricity and hot water, while larger solar systems can be used to supply electricity and hot water to entire cities.
Active systems are much more complex in the way of functioning is from passive ones, but their installation and application are simple and highly reliable. Solar panels and solar collectors are used in active solar systems. Solar panels are used to produce electricity and solar collectors for water heating.
By combining solar panels, solar collectors, and other equipment we get solar systems. There are several types of solar systems: stand-alone photovoltaic systems, network-connected photovoltaic systems, solar thermal systems, hybrid solar systems. Solar power plants are also a type of solar system but are not intended for household use but for the sale of electricity produced.
Solar photovoltaic systems
They are used to produce electricity when it is necessary to provide complete autonomy and independence. They consist of solar panels, voltage controllers, solar batteries, inverters, and accessories. They are ideal for distant objects such as cottages, boats, watering systems and the like.
Network-connected photovoltaic systems
They are used for electricity generation but are also connected to the electricity distribution network. For their installation, it is necessary that the building is connected to the mains power supply network. They are mainly used to reduce the electricity bill. They consist of solar panels, network inverters, and accessories.
Solar thermal systems
They are used for domestic hot water heating, household heating, pool heating … They consist of a solar collector, solar water heater, solar controller, circulation pump and related equipment.
Hybrid solar systems
They are combined systems for electricity production and water heating. In practice, there are actually two independent systems, one solar thermal for water heating and another standalone photovoltaic system or a network-connected photovoltaic system for producing electricity.