Solar Energy

After beaming 93 million miles of space and through our atmosphere about half of the solar energy hitting earth is absorbed by water and land, with the other half reflected back into space. What's left is potential. According to the US Department of Energy the total solar energy available to the earth is approximately 3850 zettajoules (ZJ) per year, while worldwide energy consumption was 0.471 ZJ in 2004. So much potential but the cheap fossil fuels of the past and billions of dollars of big oil influence deterred large scale investment and innovation. Times have changed.

In recent years we've seen exciting developments in a wide spectrum of disciplines: from architects using techniques to maximize light and heat from the sun to our benefit in our buildings, to solar thermal, to water distillation and purification, to heating water and for desalination. By far though, solar energy's most anticipated use is electricity generation. At this time photovoltaic (PV) cells and panels are still the most frequently used method for turning sun into electricity. There are also concentrating solar systems that use lenses, mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small, concentrated beam, which is used to generate electricity. There are various other technologies that can create solar power from solar energy, but, for now, these remain the most popular and most viable.

Passive Solar Design

Passive solar design is sustainable design capitalizing on the construction of the building, the way its site is set up, the environment around it, and its orientation to the sun to make the best use of the amount of sunlight...

Solar Water Heating Systems

An overview of the different approaches to using solar for heating water. We cover passive solar heating as well as direct and indirect systems, thermosyphons, drainback, ICS, flat plate & evacuated tube collectors...

Transpired Solar Collectors

Transpired solar air collector systems consist of a dark-colored, perforated facade installed on a building's south-facing wall. An added fan or the building's existing ventilation system draws ventilation air...

Photovoltaic Cells, Modules and Arrays

Photovoltaics cause photons from sunlight to knock electrons into a higher state of energy, creating electricity. Photovoltaic production has been doubling every two years, increasing by an average of 48 percent...

Solar Daylighting

Solar daylighting systems, which use natural lighting to supplement electric lighting, have the potential to cut energy use, reduce peak demand, and create a more desirable indoor environment... See our guide to daylighting

Solar Daylighting: Passive Lighting

Solar Daylighting for Improved Productivity, Comfort and Cost Effectiveness

Solar Daylighting Design Trends and Advancements

Light Shelves: How to Maximize Daylight Penetration

Concentrating Solar Systems: Solar Power Plants

Concentrating solar power plants produce electric power by converting the sun's energy into high-temperature heat using various mirror configurations. See our guide to solar power plants...

Concentrating Solar Overview

Solar Dish Systems

Solar Furnaces

Solar Trough Systems

Solar Towers

Solar Ponds

A solar pond is a large, controlled body of water that collects and stores solar energy. Solar ponds do not use tracking systems such as mirrors, nor do they concentrate the sun's rays like many other solar energy technologies...


Solar Energy copyright 2011