5 Advantages of Passive Solar Energy Explained
Advantages of passive solar energy are; relatively-low cost, minimal environmental impact, simplicity of use, non-alteration of building, and role in energy transition.
This article discusses the advantages of passive solar energy, as follows;
1). Relatively-Low Cost (as one of the Advantages of Passive Solar Energy)
The cheapest solar energy concept is arguably passive solar.
This is because it is also the simplest solar energy concept, and relies solely on natural and circumstantial factors without any active external input.
As the various examples of passive solar applications show, there is no need for external equipment or devices in passive solar energy capture. Rather, the building or structure which requires solar energy, is used as the medium of energy capture.
The cost of passive solar energy is calculated in relation to the cost of buildings in which it is implemented, since the building is itself the medium of energy storage, or the passive solar system.
Extra cost in building construction as a result of passive solar design may range from 0-3 percent, which is relatively low. What makes passive solar cheap is the lack of need for any sophisticated device to be installed in a building in order to use this energy resource.
Rather, by being passive it eliminates need for any active mechanism to facilitate the solar capture and utilization process.
Buildings that are being constructed with the intent of using passive solar, can be designed to maximize the capture of energy, thereby increasing long-term benefits and cost-effectiveness .
Because they reduce the need for fossil fuel generators and electricity for heating and cooling, passive solar systems achieve energy conservation with regards to these resources. It also serves as a means to reduce electricity bills.
Lastly, passive solar systems are cheap due to their low maintenance requirements. Because there are no mechanical or external devices involved, passive solar maintenance is equivalent to building maintenance, and hardly causes additional cost.
2). Minimal Environmental Impact
Passive solar energy is sustainable, because it meets the three basic criteria for sustainability including; economic viability, social acceptability and environment-friendliness.
As a result, it is not uncommon to find passive solar energy being mentioned in relation to sustainable concepts like circular and green economies, renewable, clean and green energies, as well as green building.
The environmental impact of passive solar is very low, and even negligible when compared to the impact of other energy resources and technologies, on the environment.
This can be seen in the role of space heating (with fossil-fuel energy) in the release of greenhouse gases that cause global warming and climate change.
Problems caused to the environment when fossil fuels are used for heating range from pollution (air pollution by combustion byproducts, soil and water pollution by oil spill) to resource depletion, loss of habitats and natural ecosystems, and climatic alteration.
These problems are generally mitigated when passive solar is used in place (or in augmentation) of fossil fuels.
Life cycle analyses of passive solar buildings show that they significantly reduce environmental degradation in their surroundings, and are therefore beneficial to the environment .
Environmental benefits of passive solar are; quality improvement, resource conservation, and mitigation of noise and aesthetic pollution.
It must also be noted that passive solar is more environment-friendly than active solar energy.
Active solar can have less of an environmental impact provided the following are implemented;
1. Non-toxic working fluid and component-materials
2. Efficient design with low aesthetic impact
3. Closed-system design to reduce vapor escape into the atmosphere
4. Minimal use of external equipment like pumps
3). Simplicity of Use (as one of the Advantages of Passive Solar Energy)
One of the obvious advantages of passive solar energy is its simplicity.
Unlike other renewable energy concepts that depend on specialized (and often sophisticated) mechanisms, passive solar energy is entirely independent of external devices or mechanisms.
On the contrary, passive solar systems comprise of buildings that have been oriented and designed to capture solar radiation in a manner that meets the daylighting and temperature-regulation needs of the occupants.
Since solar energy is free and naturally-occurring, the only input required to exploit passive solar radiation is the design of the building.
The simplest form of passive solar heating is direct capture, which involves the entry of solar electromagnetic waves into spaces in a building through apertures like windows. This radiation is captured and/or stored as thermal energy (infrared) and visible light.
Other factors that add to the simplicity of passive solar energy include its cost and maintenance, which are much-less demanding than other energy systems.
4). Non-Alteration of Building
Passive energy systems in buildings are those which are integrated fully with the building components and design.
Buildings with passive solar heating are designed and equipped to capture and store as much solar thermal energy as they require.
A passive solar building works by collecting solar energy as light and heat during the day, while regulating its internal temperature to minimize fluctuations at night when there is no solar radiation.
Because there are no mechanical or electrical devices involved, passive solar heating does not alter the basic structure, aesthetics or composition of buildings.
Advantages of passive solar buildings include their sustainable design, thermal efficiency, and relatively-low cost.
5). Role in Energy Transition (as one of the Advantages of Passive Solar Energy)
Passive solar energy is one of the concepts driving the energy transition agenda from fossil fuels to clean and sustainable alternatives.
The development of passive solar technology is beneficial as it plays a similar role to other energy transition technologies like distributed energy resources management systems (DERMS), electric vehicles, wind, geothermal, wave and ocean thermal conversion (OTEC) systems.
Advantages of passive solar energy are;
1. Relatively-Low Cost
2. Minimal Environmental Impact
3. Simplicity of Use
4. Non-Alteration of Building
5. Role in Energy Transition
1). Morrissey, J.; Moore, T., Horne, R. E. (2011). "Affordable passive solar design in a temperate climate: An experiment in residential building orientation." Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 568-577. Available at: https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/renene/v36y2011i2p568-577.html. (Accessed 19 April 2023).
2). Mouton, L.; Trigaux, D.; Allacker, K.; Röck, M. (2022). "Low-Tech Passive Solar Design Concepts for reducing Life Cycle GHG Emissions of Buildings - Life Cycle Assessment of Regenerative Design Strategies (2/2)." Available at: 10.21203/rs.3.rs-2199079/v1. (Accessed 19 April 2023).