The solar energy is the fraction of the energy of solar radiation, which provides thermal energy and the light reaching the surface of the Earth, after being filtered by the Earth’s atmosphere.
On Earth, solar energy is the source of the water cycle, the wind, and the photosynthesis performed by the plant kingdom, which depends on the animal kingdom through food chains. The Sun is the source of most energy on Earth with the exception of nuclear energy and geothermal one.
University students, who have chosen solar energy topic for their research papers, have to know that the energy derived indirectly from solar energy include: the hydraulic energy, derived from the kinetic energy of the water cycle, which depends on the Sun, the tidal power derives primarily from the effect of the strength of gravitation of the Moon and, in lower degree, of the Sun and depends on other parameters such as the geography of the coast.
There is also the wind energy from the kinetic energy of wind related to the Sun, the rotation of the Earth and the Coriolis effect, the tidal energy and wave energy related to the movement of the oceans and streams, the wood energy and biomass energy as well as geothermal of very low temperature from the surface layers of soil warmed by the sun. You can add the fossil fuels from organic matter created by photosynthesis (coal, oil, natural gas…), which is added by biochemical energy of living organic matter.
This article discusses the energy produced by the man capturing the radiation emitted by the Sun, mostly in electrical form or thermal. This is one of the main forms of renewable energy.
The use of solar energy dates back to antiquity. The Greeks indeed lit the Olympic flame with sunlight through a system of mirrors.
The French Salomon de Caus built in 1615 a solar pump, working with the heated air by solar radiation.
In 1747, Georges-Louis Buffon experimented with a mirror that concentrated sunlight into one focal point. It was capable to melt a silver piece (the melting point of silver is 1044 ° C).
At the end of 18th century, with a liquid lens that concentrates the sun’s rays, Antoine Lavoisier built a solar oven that reached a temperature of 1800 ° C.
In the years 1780, H.B. de Saussure invented a measuring instrument enabling him to study the heating effects of the sun, which he called “a solar thermometer”; this instrument uses the greenhouse effect obtained by glazing positioned over an absorber in an insulated casing; it created a thermal solar collector at a low temperature.
In 1875, Werner von Siemens outlined to the Academy of Sciences in Berlin an article on the photovoltaic effect in semiconductors.
In 1913, William Coblentz filed the first patent for a solar cell, which unfortunately would never work.
In 1916, Robert Millikan was the first to produce electricity with a solar cell, but during the next forty years, no one will make a lot of progress in solar energy because solar cells were too inefficient to convert sunlight energy.
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