Solarenergie: Was ist Sonnenenergie – und wie nutzen wir sie am besten? - NIKIN EU

Solar energy: What is solar energy – and how do we best use it?

The spring-like weather of the last few days and weeks spoiled us with lots of sunshine and temperatures well over 20 °C. Spring 2020 is more sunny than ever before. The sun not only supplies us with vitamin D - but can also be used to generate energy.

The spring-like weather of the last few days and weeks spoiled us with lots of sunshine and temperatures well over 20 °C. Spring 2020 is more sunny than ever before. The sun not only supplies us with vitamin D - but can also be used to generate energy.

Solar energy

Solar energy is the energy that can be obtained from the sun's rays. This not only includes the energy generated by converting solar radiation into electrical power, but also direct solar heat and the thermal use of solar radiation.

The sun's radiance is based on the electromagnetic radiation that is released on the surface of the celestial body - with an estimated, almost unimaginable temperature of approx. 5500°C.

How does the use of solar energy work physically?

The sun's rays that reach us are products of the nuclear fusions taking place inside the sun. When the rays hit the earth's atmosphere, they still have an intensity of approx. 1367 watts per m². Part of the solar radiation is stopped, scattered or reflected in the atmosphere by suspended matter. And the atmosphere itself is already warmed by solar radiation and thus absorbs a considerable proportion of the radiation.

Whatever is left reaches the surface of the earth and has its effect there. The sun's rays are used by plants for photosynthesis, i.e. the conversion of carbon monoxide into oxygen. We owe the air we breathe to this process.

When people use solar energy, they do so in different ways using photovoltaics or photothermals:

  • Use solar cells in photovoltaics to generate direct current
  • Gain heat through solar collectors as part of photothermal technology
  • Electricity generation in the solar thermal power plant via heat and steam
  • Electricity generation through sun-heated air in so-called updraft power plants
  • Solar ovens or cookers for heating food, medical devices, etc.vm
  • Solar balloons whose ability to fly relies on the hot air inside

 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of solar power?

When it comes to using solar energy, experts differentiate between solar panels and photovoltaic systems. For example, solar panels can be used to heat water for household needs; a storage medium is not provided here. However, the collectors only perform at their best when the weather is very nice and the sky is clear. At night, as soon as the heated water supply is used up, showering is no longer necessary.

Photovoltaic systems, on the other hand, can be used to generate electricity that is fed into the grid. The electricity generated in this way is paid to the producer. Conversely, households with a photovoltaic system can feed in during the day and then, conversely, draw electricity from the grid at night.

Such systems are of course much more complex to purchase than the simple collectors. In addition, users have to calculate how big or the system is powerful enough to be able to pay for itself sensibly. If you have enough roof space, you can install a photovoltaic system of 20-30 m² within approx. depreciated over 15 years.

It is also complex to store the solar energy generated yourself. Corresponding chemical storage media is still being worked on; the use of hydrogen cells is conceivable.

How big are the benefits of solar energy?

Larger photovoltaic systems are complex panels made of semiconductors that convert solar radiation into direct current. This is converted and can be fed into the power grid. The systems have become much more affordable than they were 10 or 15 years ago and are among the most important sustainable methods of generating electricity. Because modern solar cells have an extremely high conversion rate, they also work well in northern latitudes.

The possibilities are far from exhausted. At least a quarter of the energy requirement could be covered by solar power by the middle of the century. And solar energy can be used not only for the electricity required, but also for hot water preparation and room heating - both actively and passively, ideally in combination with appropriate renovation and insulation of buildings.

Solar energy

Passive and active use of solar energy

Sun energy has been used passively for thousands of years - especially in the orientation of buildings. The aim is to capture the maximum amount of light and heat through the windows. At the same time, so-called “passive houses” must of course also have appropriate thermal insulation so that the “captured” solar heat stays in.

If, on the other hand, solar radiation is to be actively used, a solar collector is necessary to generate hot water or a photovoltaic system that generates electricity. No matter what users choose, the panels or other components can be included in the design of a building.

Use solar energy – you can do it almost anywhere

With highly efficient new solar panels, the sun's power can be converted into energy even in northern latitudes. Even the slightest light irradiation is used. And mobile solutions are now also being considered. There are solar pads that are an ideal option for energy supply for outdoor enthusiasts. The pads are actually portable solar cells. They can be attached to the backpack or the roof of the car and at the end of the day they generate electricity for your cell phone, camera or hot shower water. Solar energy is not only incredibly sustainable - it is also extremely portable!

NIKIN – for a more sustainable approach to the environment

Although we at NIKIN are primarily concerned with sustainable materials in the fashion industry and fight against global deforestation, it is important to us to also think sustainably in other areas of life. We want to motivate people to rethink their lifestyle and possibly make it more sustainable. It is time to think about alternative energy sources than the traditional ones. One of these is the use of solar energy, which is gradually becoming more affordable due to technical progress and is also experiencing an upswing in Switzerland.

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