Solar-Derived Energy Resources - Direct Solar Power

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  • Solar-Derived Energy Resources - Direct Solar Power
    • Photothermal systems
      • Sunlight can be used to heat buildings and water.
      • Passive solar heating is the heating of a building by absorbing sunlight without the use of additional equipment.
        • Building design can increase passive solar gains by having large windows or a conservatory facing in the direction from which most sunlight will be absorbed.
      • Hot water can be produced in solar panels, which are usually mounted on roofs. Their efficiency can be increased by careful orientation and good design.
    • Photovoltaic systems
      • Sunlight absorbed by the surface layer of photovoltaic cells displaces electrons that can be used to drive electrical appliances.
      • When they were first developed, photovoltaic cells were very expensive but mass production has reduced costs.
      • Photovoltaic schemes that feed electricity into the mains electricity grid are becoming more common, especially in countries with a sunny climate.
      • The output of the cells can be increased with heliostats that turn the panels so that they always face the Sun
    • The solar insolation that reaches the Earth's surface has a low energy density and its intensity fluctuates in daily and seasonal cycles.
      • The angle of incidence also changes in daily and seasonal cycles so there is no single optimum position for a solar panel to harness solar power.
        • This can be solved by 'tracking' the sun with a heliostat so the receiver is always at the optimum angle to receive sunlight.
      • Clouds, smoke and dust can reduce the intensity of the insolation. They can also scatter the light.
    • Environmental Impacts
      • Electricity may be used to pump water in photothermal systems or to rotate heliostats
      • Maintenance will result in some transport impacts
      • Extraction and processing of the materials used in construction, such as glass, copper, aluminium and plastics
      • No habitat loss during installation as usually put on buildings

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