The characteristics and use of solar energy

The sun, an average star, is a fusion reactor that has been burning over 4 billion years. It provides enough energy in one minute to supply the world's energy needs for one year. In one day, it provides more energy than our current population would consume in 27 years.

The characteristics and use of solar energy

Lectures - Monday and Wednesday, Take away ideas and understandings: Solar energy and gravitational energy are the fundamental sources of energy for the Earth's climate system. In the ideal case referred to as "black body" matter will absorb all the energy impinging on it in the form of electromagnetic waves and as a result will warm up and itself become a radiation source.

This "give and take" of energy leads to The characteristics and use of solar energy state of equilibrium, where the outgoing radiation balances the incoming one.

Thermal energy

The energy radiated from a black body is distributed over all wavelengths, in a "bell-shaped" dependence on the wavelength. Maximum energy is radiated at a wavelength proportional to the inverse of the absolute temperature. The total integral over all wavelengths energy radiated from a black body is proportional to the fourth power of its absolute temperature.

The energy flux radiating from a point source falls of as the square of the distance from it. This is why light dims fast as one moves away from its source.

The characteristics and use of solar energy

Using these fundamental laws and knowing the Sun's temperature, we can calculate the so-called "effective" or "emission" temperature of any of its surrounding planets.

This is the temperature that the plant will appear to have when viewed from outer space. The Earth and other planets are not perfect black bodies, as they do not absorb all the incoming solar radiation but reflected part of it back to space.

The ratio between the reflected and the incoming energies is termed the planetary albedo.

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Because of its spherical shape incoming solar radiation is not equally distributed over the planet. At each instant, only the sun lights only half of the planet's surface, with maximum radiation coming in at local noon and less in other times of the day. The total daily radiation decreases from equator to pole.

Thus the Earth's surface should inherently be warmer at the equator than it is at the poles. However, … The Earth's axis of rotation tilts at a This is the reason for the seasons. During solstice, the pole pointing to the sun and the surrounding area receive radiation during all 24 hours of the day while the opposite pole does not receive any solar energy.

This has the potential for making the poles as warm or warmer than the equator in their respective summer time if it were not for the large albedo of the Polar Regions.

In the narrow sense of the word, Climate is the average or typical state of the weather at a particular location and time of year. Its description includes the average of such variables as temperature, humidity, windiness, cloudiness, precipitation, visibility etc. In the broadest sense however, climate is the state of the Earth's habitable environment consisting of the following components and the interactions between them: The atmosphere, the fast responding medium which surrounds us and immediately affects our condition.

The hydrosphere, including the oceans and all other reservoirs of water in liquid form, which are the main source of moisture for precipitation and which exchange gases, such as CO2, and particles, such as salt, with the atmosphere.

The land masses, which affect the flow of atmosphere and oceans through their morphology i. The cryosphere, or the ice component of the climate system, whether on land or at the ocean's surface, that plays a special role in the Earth radiation balance and in determining the properties of the deep ocean.

The biota - all forms of life - that through respiration and other chemical interactions affects the composition and physical properties air and water.

In our generation climate is receiving unprecedented attention due to the possibility that human activity on Earth during the past couple hundred years will lead to significantly large and rapid changes in environmental conditions.

These changes could well affect our health, comfort levels, and ability to grow and distribute food. This course introduces the climate system and the processes that determine its state as a problem in physical science.

Our goal is to explain the properties of the climate system and its governing processes in a quantitative manner, so that a better understanding of today's environmental issues can be achieved.

The course will also provide a basis for further, more advanced study of the climate system and its individual components or processes.


The Climate System course is mainly concerned with the properties of atmosphere and hydrosphere and the physical laws governing their behavior. Attention to the solid and living earth is also given, as far as they affect atmosphere and hydrosphere.

Solid Earth and Life are dealt with in much more details in two separate courses under the EES umbrella. Within the climate system the atmosphere plays the role of the efficient communicator.

The atmosphere is capable of quickly moving and distributing mass and heat over large distances, horizontally and vertically and spread the effect of frequent perturbations to remote regions of the globe within hours to days from their occurrence.

The atmosphere directly affects life on Earth by supplying the gases for the respiration of vegetation and animals and by moving water from oceanic regions to be deposited in liquid or solid form on land. The atmosphere also shelters life on Earth from the extreme and potentially harmful effects of direct solar radiation.Kenya is faced with a rising demand in electricity resulting from a rapidly growing economy and an increasing population.

Being a tropical country, lying astride the equator, solar energy is one of the readily available renewable energy resource options to meet this need. solarZero® retail energy rate estimates based on average wholesale spot prices for the past three years. Estimated savings based on regional household power bill data and supplying solarZero® energy service to home with north facing roof at 20° pitch, with no shading and using solar radiation data from NIWA.

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Solar energy is radiant light and heat from the Sun that is harnessed using a range of ever-evolving technologies such as solar heating, photovoltaics, solar thermal energy, solar architecture, molten salt power plants and artificial photosynthesis..

It is an important source of renewable energy and its technologies are broadly characterized as either passive solar or active solar depending on.

Solar thermal energy (STE) is a form of energy and a technology for harnessing solar energy to generate thermal energy or electrical energy for use in industry, and .

An innovative practice to effectively make use of the sunshine is with transportation powered by photovoltaic (PV) energy. Railroads, subways, buses, planes, cars and even roads can all be powered by solar, and solar transit is becoming a popular offering in the renewable energy sector.

Concentrated solar power - Airlight Energy