A) Solar Technology
The sun irradiates its power, that reachs the external band of atmosphere at 1,353 Watt per square mt. The measured power at the Earth surface is about 1,000 Watt/sqm under ideal conditions (clear weather at noon). Basically, there are two main man-made ways to exploit this energy.
The first method is based on the photovoltaic absorption effect on a semiconductor. The absorbed energy is partially converted to electric current, at an efficiency rate rarley superior to 15%, for the best materials. The first solar cell dates back to '50 (USA, 1954), with an efficiency of about 6%. The theoretical framework on the photovoltaic effect was developed by Einstein, at the end of last century.
Thanks to Aerospace advances, photovoltaics systems have recentely evolved to a great extent.
The second method for exploiting the solar energy is based on the use of sun collectros, that can absorb more than 50% of the total radiated power. Then this energy is used to heat water for civil use.
There are several systems on the market for thermal applications.
With today systems more than 90% efficiency can be reached, even at bad weather conditions and at very low outside temperature.
The water heated in this way can reach high values in temperature (70-80°).
B) Other renewables
The Solar energy is very common and easy to transform a source of energy. Other sources may well be used in order to produce free and clean energy, like wind, hydro, geothermal and biomasses. If the systems are well designed, most part of the total balance for one house or for other use can be produced this way. None of these technologies do increase the CO2 content in the atmosphere. Therefore the use of these technologies contributes to reduce greenhouse gas emission.
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