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Author Topic: Is there a better way to utilise the Sun's energy?  (Read 3703 times)

Offline Don_1

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Solar power has been in use for a long time now, but, for the most part, it tends to be used for nothing more than solar powered garden lights like this:

But a dim light in the garden is hardly saving energy!

There are solar panels available for fitting on your roof like this:

These preheat water for your central heating, or these:

turn sunlight into electricity you can use to charge batteries.

But both of these have a relatively high initial outlay. You will not see a return on your investment for some time.

So can we utilise the sun's power better? Could we have a Solar water panel over a solar cell panel, thus our water is preheated and we get our batteries charges into the bargain from the one unit?

Or is there a better way to utilise the sun's rays altogether?

How about a solar turbine, in which the sun's rays are used to heat air which drives a turbine?


Would the escaping hot air be able to drive the turbine and generate electricity?
« Last Edit: 06/07/2009 17:27:27 by Don_1 »


 

Offline Bored chemist

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Offline Don_1

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Is there a better way to utilise the Sun's energy?
« Reply #2 on: 09/07/2009 15:01:42 »
Ah! And I thought I'd had a brainstorm!
 

lyner

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Is there a better way to utilise the Sun's energy?
« Reply #3 on: 16/07/2009 11:01:28 »
The actual figures quoted in the wiki article show that the tower would not be 'better' in many circumstances. The problem is that constitutes a 'heat engine' with very small difference in temperature between hot source and cold sink, which means low efficiency. In this case,it implies the need for a vast installation. Not a problem where the Sun shines a lot and you have loads of free space. Wind Power, on the other hand, is getting energy from the 'natural' equivalent to the tower. It is less reliable, of course, but has advantages in the UK.

 The beauty of photo-electric generation is that it works at the quantum level and gives a very good  energy transfer.  Electricity is fantastically portable, of course. As technology gets better, the cost of PV will drop and make them more and more attractive.

Of course, if all you are interested in is Heating Power, you can't beat a well designed solar  heat collection system and lots of heat storage. Converting to electricity (which would also need to be stored, inefficiently) and then driving an electrical heater, would be the worst of both worlds.
 

Offline Don_1

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Is there a better way to utilise the Sun's energy?
« Reply #4 on: 16/07/2009 11:24:24 »
This was an idea which came into my yawning chasm head while watching one of those garden wind spirals, but as BC pointed out, I had been beaten to the post on this idea and it does seem that the construction needs to be huge.

But what about solar cells under a solar panel, one installation performing two purposes, would it be more economical?
 

lyner

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Is there a better way to utilise the Sun's energy?
« Reply #5 on: 16/07/2009 14:18:11 »
To be efficient, the solar panel has to absorb as much radiation as poss. So it will be black and let nothing through for the PVs, unfortunately.
However, it would not be totally daft to use the fact that PVs do not use all the radiation which arrives. They will get a bit warm, too. That could be used to pre-heat water which goes into a solar heating panel.
« Last Edit: 16/07/2009 14:27:58 by sophiecentaur »
 

Offline Ernest0285

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Is there a better way to utilise the Sun's energy?
« Reply #6 on: 06/02/2010 15:00:11 »
Solar energy is really remarkable energy source for me though solar power is not available at all times because the amount of sunlight that arrives at the Earth's surface is not constant. It depends on time of day, time of year, and weather conditions.

OOPS - no spammy links thanks...!

« Last Edit: 06/02/2010 16:19:54 by chris »
 

Offline doppler1

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Is there a better way to utilise the Sun's energy?
« Reply #7 on: 08/02/2010 09:44:07 »
I did post the question on this forum but have not had any feedback as yet and I would like to know if there is any merit in using fluorescence or phosphorescence in materials of construction to get longer supply times, albeit low input value. Some phosphorescent technology exists to give up to 100 hours of light from a few minutes of charging time in sunlight or artificial light. Any views there on this???
 

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Is there a better way to utilise the Sun's energy?
« Reply #7 on: 08/02/2010 09:44:07 »

 

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