Solar energy has many different applications, some of which are listed below:
Solar Energy Examples / Generating Electricity
Solar energy utilization does not just involve generating electricity to power conventional appliances. The same technology has allowed for the development of solar-powered products such as chargers, calculators, radios, shavers, and refrigerators.
Solar Energy Examples / Architecture & Urban Planning
Solar energy applications for architecture and urban planning are related mostly to lighting. Today, there are solar lights that collect energy throughout the day and then light up when the sun starts to set.
There are also solar-powered switchable windows that serve as good alternatives to curtains and blinds. Solar flashlights and lanterns have also been developed to minimize the reliance on batteries and electric chargers when used outdoors.
Other products useful in this field are light tubes, skylights, and light shelves. These are often part of entire daylighting systems or hybrid solar lighting (HSL) systems that collect sunlight and distribute it indoors. Through these systems, indoor lighting energy requirements can be reduced by up to 25%.
Agriculture & Horticulture
Among the most significant applications in agriculture and horticulture are greenhouses that utilize solar energy to mimic the natural environment of crop and other plants allowing for continuous production in any area.
Other solar energy applications in this field are solar-powered water pumps and fountains. These are especially useful in farms and large gardens where irrigation is required in areas far from electrical outlets.
Solar Energy Examples / Heating & Heat Processes
Apart from indoor space heaters, there are a number of solar hot water systems to choose from. For homes and buildings, there are glazed flat plate collectors and evacuated tube collectors. For swimming pools, there are unglazed plastic collectors.
Developments in solar thermal energy also have also led to the invention of solar cookers. The simplest form of solar cookers is known as the hot box which are insulated containers that can generate heat of up to 150°C. There are also cookers that use reflective panels as well as those that use mirrors and lenses to focus sunlight into containers. These types are capable of reaching temperatures of over 315°C.
Cooling & Ventilation
Cooling and ventilation can account for 30-50% of energy consumption in homes and commercial buildings. Products for this purpose include solar-powered fans, air conditioners, and solar chimneys.
Solar Energy Examples / Distillation of Water
Solar water distillers have allowed people to generate potable water out of brackish or saline supply. There are also solar water disinfection systems that have been particularly helpful in developing countries. Solar water purification units are also in use in several households.
Solar Energy Examples / Solar Vehicles
Advancements in solar technology and engineering have led to the invention of solar vehicles like solar balloons, boats, sails and planes. Engineers have also developed several prototypes of solar-powered cars. All these solar vehicles have tremendous commercial potential.
Solar energy has many other applications and continuous developments are being made to make solar-powered products more accessible and practical for common use.
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