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Can renewable energy sources power the world?
Can renewable energy sources power the world?

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11 Summary

To sum up this week, you have:

  • described the nature of solar radiation, starting with the important distinction between its ‘light’ (i.e. visible short-wave radiation) and its ‘heat’ (long-wave radiation)
  • noted that direct solar radiation, the unobstructed rays of the Sun, is important for concentrating collectors, and diffuse radiation is important for natural lighting
  • discussed how optimising the amount of radiation falling on a flat plate collector requires an understanding of the appropriate tilt, which will depend on the latitude of the site
  • turned briefly to the properties of glass and other glazing materials, particularly their ability to transmit light but block the re-radiation of long-wave infrared radiation
  • looked at some low-temperature applications for solar energy, particularly domestic solar water heating and space heating, and described basic solar collector types and their applications
  • described three ‘passive solar’ technologies, where the solar collector is an integral part of a building: the Conservatory, the Trombe wall and the Direct Gain type
  • outlined the role of daylighting in avoiding excessive use of artificial light
  • introduced the ‘heat pump’, which although not directly a ‘solar’ technology, does draw heat from the outside environment, ultimately warmed by the Sun, producing low-temperature heat
  • discussed the use of solar thermal energy to generate electricity in concentrating solar power (CSP) systems, and looked at the basic forms of concentrating collector: the line focus or parabolic trough, the point focus or dish collector, and the ‘power tower’ design.

You can now go to Week 3 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .