As it is best known, solar energy is most commonly found on the rooftops of our homes and plots of land for major companies. However, what about other every day objects? Are there ordinary items powered with solar energy that we may not know about? The answer is YES!
In fact, one of the first objects to use the sun’s energy was a solar oven invented by John Herschel in 1830. This sunlight absorbing box was able to heat food during one of Herschel’s exploration quests, much like today’s microwave oven. Many of these objects are able to consume sunlight and transfer it as heat energy, serving most of our necessities. This conduction unit is known as a solar thermal system.
According to an article posted by Julian Egelstaff of Solar Powered in Toronto, solar thermal systems “concentrate solar energy onto a conduit, and inside the conduit is something that conducts heat, often some kind of oil. The conductor heats up and is then used to boil water, which creates steam, which operates turbines, that generate electricity.”
Today, thermal units are used to heat water in living spaces and pools and provide warmth and power for air conditioning units in most industrial locations. The solar power systems we are used to employ photovoltaic arrays that can power tiny sources like calculators and watches or high energy sources like solar panels. Solar thermal and photovoltaic units are improved when solar energy is fixed to mirrors and lenses. With such a variety of PV panel sizes and systems, almost any electrical unit can be powered with solar for our technological needs (EIA, 2019) (Egelstaff, 2010-2020).
Get ready to learn more about the future of solar energy and the innovations in process with next week’s blog post!
- Egelstaff, Julian. (2010-2020). What other kinds of solar power are there besides rooftop systems? Solar Powered in Toronto. Retrieved from http://www.yourturn.ca/solar/solar-power/what-other-kinds-of-solar-power-are-there-besides-rooftop-systems/.
- Solar Explained. (2019, December 4). U.S. Energy Information Administration. Retrieved from https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/solar/.
- Solar Thermal. (n.d.). Greenfields Heat & Power Ltd. Image. Retrieved from http://greenfieldspenrith.com/renewable-energy-cumbria/solar-thermal/.