Advantages of active solar energy are; role in energy transition, ecosystem compatibility, low overall cost, multiple uses, and increase in property value.
This article discusses the advantages of active solar energy, as follows;
1). Role in Energy Transition (as one of the Advantages of Active Solar Energy)
Active solar energy is simply electromagnetic radiation from the Sun, that is captured or collected in its component-forms (thermal energy, visible light) and transferred to a mechanical and/or electrical system (often involving a working fluid) which subsequently delivers it in usable form.
Factors that make active solar energy unique include the energy-transfer processes involved in its usage, the electromechanical component of active solar systems, and the fact that solar energy is renewable.
Solar energy is different from fossil fuels like coal, natural gas and petroleum, by being a product of a spontaneous, natural nuclear chain reaction in the Sun, which cannot be fully quantified as a finite energy resource.
This means that unlike fossil fuels, solar energy cannot be exhausted through materialistic consumption, so that using this type of renewable energy does not go along with any risk of resource depletion.
The transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy is the concept and practice whereby non-renewable energy resources are deliberately and effectively replaced by renewable alternatives like solar, wind and ocean-thermal energies .
Because solar energy is basically renewable and clean, it poses far less risk of environmental degradation by pollution, greenhouse emission and climate change, to the global ecosystem, than fossil fuels.
Active solar is immensely important as one of the tools with which the performance of solar energy can be improved, to make it more effective in its role toward the energy transition.
Including working fluids and mechanical processes in the solar energy concept creates broader avenue for innovative changes that optimize the way solar is used to generate electricity and produce heat.
These changes can in turn help in the creation of solar systems with advanced capacity that can effectively compete with the capacity of fossil fuels, in order to be used as substitute for them.
2). Ecosystem Compatibility
The reason why active solar is a potential alternative to fossil fuels is its 'compatibility' with the ecosystem.
Basically, active solar systems are designed to have minimal impact on the environment over the course of their operation.
The environmental impact of active solar is very low compared to fossil fuels; as active solar systems do not cause any significant levels of greenhouse emission or pollution while being used to capture solar energy for use.
Natural ecosystems like forests do not face any notable threat from active solar either, as there is no huge or consistent demand for material resources.
This places active solar ahead (in terms of sustainability) of even some renewable energy forms like bioenergy; whose development often leads to deforestation in the effort to get raw materials for producing biofuels .
The only aspects of active solar that can have any environmental impact at all are the production, installation and decommissioning stages of an active solar system lifecycle.
These potential impacts come from materials used to manufacture conduits, pumps, reservoirs, solar concentrators and panels, as well as events occurring during the transport of these components to the site, as well as their installation on the site.
Fossil fuels may be used to provide energy for manufacturing, transport, installation and decommissioning. Other possible avenues for environmental impact include lubricants for maintenance of mechanical components; and evaporation of working fluids into the atmosphere (in open systems).
On a grand scale, these impacts are still minimal in comparison to non-renewable energy systems.
3). Low Overall Cost (as one of the Advantages of Active Solar Energy)
Active solar is relatively inexpensive mainly because it does not need a continuous supply of fuel.
The primary source of energy for active solar systems is solar radiation which includes visible light and infrared waves that are used for photoelectric and solar-thermal energy production, respectively.
Solar radiation itself is made freely available by nature, so that the only major investment required to use active solar systems is the capital upfront cost.
Maintenance is usually focused on lubrication or mechanical parts, inspection of reservoirs and conduits, and replacement or refilling of working fluid.
These procedures are not generally as frequent as filling the reservoir of fossil fuel-combustion systems, or replacing and maintaining the movable parts of such systems. Extreme cases of damage are not very common or rampant with active solar because there is hardly any exposure to prolonged, extreme temperature or corrosive substances.
Studies also suggest that active solar can still be relatively cheap when utilized in complex integrated systems that include Internet of Things (IoT) functionalities ; or in combination with other renewable energy forms like wind .
It must be acknowledged however, that the capital cost of active solar energy systems is often high, and can deter potential users in spite of their cost-saving tendencies. This issue is related to the fact that active solar is still a developing concept, and yet to gain sufficient advancement and popularity to be effectively subsidized.
4). Multiple Uses
Another advantage of active solar energy is its versatility, which is evident in the fact that it has multiple uses.
Active solar energy can be used for heating, cooling, and electricity generation.
In the area of heating, uses of active solar energy range from space and water heating in domestic environments like residential buildings, to heat production for industrial purposes, such as those involving thermochemical reactions.
The use of active solar for temperature regulation is especially helpful in areas prone to harsh climatic conditions, and abundant sunlight; such as regions with hot-desert climate, and some areas affected by urban heat island conditions.
Active solar can also be used for cogeneration , which is the simultaneous production of heat and electricity. In cases where solar energy is not adequate, it can be augmented with other sources of energy, to produce a hybrid-active solar system.
It is also possible for active solar designs in buildings to have some attributes of passive solar design; such as passive-daylighting, where energy is conserved during the day by relying solely on visible light from the Sun.
5). Increase in Property Value (as one of the Advantages of Active Solar Energy)
Active solar systems cause an increase in property value wherever they are installed (and in good working condition). This is especially the case for residential and commercial buildings.
A home with active solar installations, will increase in value by at least 3 percent, and in some cases by 5 percent and above; depending on the productivity and cost-saving capacity of the installation.
The same is true for all forms of solar installations, including the most conventional solar panels.
Advantages of active solar energy are;
1. Role in Energy Transition
2. Ecosystem Compatibility
3. Low Overall Cost
4. Multiple Uses
5. Increase in Property Value
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