Simple IT is about more than just producing clean, renewable energy for today’s world. We’re committed to providing future generations with the means to power their lives in the most economic, environmental and socially responsible ways possible.
Biomass is a renewable energy source not only because the energy in it comes from the sun, but also because biomass can re-grow over a relatively short period of time compared with the hundreds of millions of years that it took for fossil fuels to form.
Through the process of photosynthesis, chlorophyll in plants captures the sun’s energy by converting carbon dioxide from the air and water from the ground into carbohydrates – complex compounds composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. When these carbohydrates are burned, they turn back into carbon dioxide and water and release the energy they captured from the sun.
Solar energy is that produced by the Sun’s light – photovoltaic energy – and its warmth – solar thermal – for the generation of electricity or the production of heat. Inexhaustible and renewable, since it comes from the Sun, solar energy is harnessed using panels and mirrors.
Photovoltaic solar cells convert sunlight directly into electricity by the so-called photovoltaic effect, by which certain materials are able to absorb photons (light particles) and liberate electrons, generating an electric current. On the other hand, solar thermal collectors use panels or mirrors to absorb and concentrate the Sun’s heat, transferring it to a fluid and conducting it through pipes to use it in buildings and installations, and also for electricity production (solar thermoelectric).
What are the benefits of solar energy?
Solar energy offers many benefits that make it one of the most promising energy forms. Renewable, non-polluting and available planet-wide, it contributes to sustainable development and job creation where it is installed.
Likewise, the simplicity of this technology makes it ideal for using in rural or difficultly accessed areas isolated from the network. Solar energy is also useful for generating electricity on a large scale and injecting it into the network, especially in regions where the meteorology provides for lots of hours of sun per year.
Solar capture modules are relatively easy to maintain, which, along with the continuing, sharp reduction in cost of photovoltaic cells, explains the present favorable outlook for solar technology. Solar plants also do not emit polluting gases and are silent.
Another advantage of energy borne from the Sun is its ability to generate local wealth, by lessening energy dependence on abroad. While it is certain that solar energy – like wind – is intermittent and directly depends on the weather and day-night cycles, rapid advances in electricity storage technologies are reducing this dependency and will lead to the increasing share of solar in the energy system.
Summary of the benefits of solar energy
- Avoids global warming
- Reduces use of fossil fuels
- Reduces energy imports
- Generates local wealth and jobs
- Contributes to sustainable development
- It is modular and very versatile, adaptable to different situations
- Can be applied alike for large-scale electricity generation and on a small scale in areas isolated from the network
How is solar energy obtained?
The sun provides energy in two different ways:
- It provides heat tapped by mirrors that focus sunlight on a receiver that contains a fluid which reaches temperatures up to 1,000 ° C. The heat transforms the fluid in steam which moves a turbine and finally produces electricity.
- It provides light that is converted into electricity through photovoltaic solar panels. Photovoltaic panels are formed by groups of cells or solar cells that convert light (photons) into electrical energy (electrons).
Flowing water creates energy that can be captured and turned into electricity. This is called hydroelectric power or hydropower. The most common type of hydroelectric power plant uses a dam on a river to store water in a reservoir. Water released from the reservoir flows through a turbine, spinning it, which in turn activates a generator to produce electricity. But hydroelectric power doesn’t necessarily require a large dam. Some hydroelectric power plants just use a small canal to channel the river water through a turbine.
Another type of hydroelectric power plant – called a pumped storage plant – can even store power. The power is sent from a power grid into the electric generators. The generators then spin the turbines backward, which causes the turbines to pump water from a river or lower reservoir to an upper reservoir, where the power is stored. To use the power, the water is released from the upper reservoir back down into the river or lower reservoir. This spins the turbines forward, activating the generators to produce electricity.
A small or micro-hydroelectric power system can produce enough electricity for a home, farm, or ranch.