The sun gives off a huge amount of energy beneficial to humans and other devices. Its energy is considered among the renewable forms available to man and one that can reduce electricity bills.
Solar power has been tapped for use in a number of valuable applications. Apart from electricity generation, solar energy is also utilized these days in the air conditioning system.
In the cooling system for residential and commercial structures, different techniques of collecting solar energy are used. These include passive solar, photovoltaic cells and conversion of solar thermal energy.
Passive solar cooling actually refers to designing a building that will reduce the amount of heat transferred into a building especially during the summer season. The design is also aimed at removing excess heat from a home or office. An example of a passive solar design is the installation of a green roof with a radiant barrier and air gap underneath. This design is ideal for a home with an attic that is made into a bedroom or music room. The idea is to lower the temperature of the roof surface during the hot months.
Solar thermal cooling is the opposite of the passive system. It utilizes solar thermal collectors to provide energy needed to power chillers. Solar thermal systems convert solar power into useful heat energy that is more efficient than those coming from fuel powered sources. This type of active system can provide both cool air in summer and hot air in winter. In fact, it can even be used to heat water. The solar collectors for this cooling system are normally the flat plates that have been proven to be not only effective but cost efficient as well.
Photovoltaic systems are effective in providing electricity to power any air conditioner or chiller. This system, when used consistently, can give sufficient energy for the entire year that can offset a home’s electricity bills for air conditioning.
Being a renewable energy, solar power is capable of producing heat for cooling purposes even for long hours. Greater solar heat can be gained during clear days when the sun is out most of the time. Compared to the traditional air conditioning units, electricity, carbon dioxide emissions and CFCs are not major issues in the solar powered systems.
Solar air conditioning systems are not yet widely used as they’re still undergoing further study. In the U.S., the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 has approved funding for more research on this technology until 2012. Other countries are also doing their share in developing similar technology that can benefit people during hot weather.
The trend today is towards the so-called zero energy buildings through the use of solar air conditioning. If these structures proliferate, the energy problem will be greatly reduced. Additional benefits seen include greater energy independence and security, employment generation notably for the green collar workers and increased gross domestic product.
Worldwide, solar power is considered the most important renewable energy. Germany is a top player in the solar power industry with more than 150 factories producing solar technology for generating heat and electricity.