La energía solar es la energía obtenida a partir del aprovechamiento de la radiación electromagnética procedente del Sol. Además de su propia capacidad para generar energía (energía solar térmica y energía solar fotovoltaica), en el sol se encuentra el origen de todas las energías renovables.

El calentamiento de la tierra y del agua provoca las diferencias de presión que dan origen al viento, fuente de la energía eólica. El sol es, a la vez, el agente principal del ciclo del agua, que convierte la evaporación de los océanos en lluvia y, por lo tanto, en el recurso de la energía hidráulica. Por otro lado, el sol, también, es el actor imprescindible del proceso de fotosíntesis y por ello origen principal de la energía que utiliza la biomasa. El sol es, al fin y al cabo, la fuente de la vida en la tierra.

Paneles solaresEnergía solar fotovoltaica

Es la que genera electricidad. Se basa en el llamado efecto fotovoltaico que se produce al b. De esta forma, se genera un flujo de electrones en el interior de esos materiales y una diferencia de potencial que puede ser aprovechada.
Un segundo grupo de aplicaciones son las conectadas a la red, que incluyen grandes centrales de potencia y pequeñas instalaciones asociadas a consumidores domésticos e industrias.

Por último, existen las aplicaciones singulares, dedicadas a la alimentación energética de objetos, desde satélites artificiales a relojes y calculadoras.

Para hacernos una idea de su potencial, cada kWh generado con energía solar fotovoltaica evita la emisión a la atmósfera de aproximadamente 1 kg de CO2, en comparación con el carbón, o aproximadamente 0,4 kg de CO2 en el caso de comparar con generación eléctrica con gas natural.

Una vivienda unifamiliar con una potencia instalada en su tejado de 5 kW puede evitar anualmente 1,9 toneladas de CO2 al año, en comparación con la generación eléctrica con central de ciclo combinado de gas natural, y una planta solar con seguimiento de 10 MW, puede evitar anualmente 6.500 toneladas de CO2.

Energía solar térmicaEnergía solar térmica

El aprovechamiento de la energía del sol puede conseguirse de dos maneras: sin mediación de elementos mecánicos, es decir, de forma pasiva, o con mediación de elementos mecánicos, es decir, de forma activa. La energía solar activa, a su vez, puede ser de baja temperatura, media temperatura y alta temperatura, según la captación sea directa, de bajo índice de concentración o de alto índice de concentración.
Las aplicaciones de baja temperatura, realizadas con colectores planos vidriados, los conocidos como paneles solares, son las más extendidas comercialmente. Sus aplicaciones de más interés son:

  • En edificios. Para conseguir agua caliente sanitaria, calentamiento de piscinas y calefacción.
  • En instalaciones industriales. También para la preparación de agua caliente sanitaria y parcelación de agua para procesos.
  • En instalaciones agropecuarias. Para la calefacción de los invernaderos, agua caliente de las piscifactorías, etc.
  • Refrigeración solar. En emplazamientos con necesidades de agua fría o refrigeración, mediante el aprovechamiento de calor en un proceso de absorción.

Solar Termoeléctrica

La energía solar termoeléctrica se clasifica en sistemas de media temperatura y sistemas de alta temperatura. Las centrales de media temperatura más desarrolladas actualmente corresponden a centrales con colectores cilindroparabólicos. Los aprovechamientos de alta temperatura se realizan mediante centrales de torre y centrales de generadores discoparabólicos.

Centrales de Colectores Cilindroparabólicos (Media Temperatura). Están formadas por colectores de espejo que reflejan la radiación sobre un tubo situado en la línea focal, el cual contiene el absorbente y el fluido caloportador. El fluido es calentado hasta 400ºC, con relaciones de concentración solar de entre 15 y 50, produciendo vapor sobrecalentado que alimenta una turbina convencional que genera electricidad. Es necesario disponer de un sistema de seguimiento solar.

Centrales de Torre (Alta Temperatura). Formadas por un campo de helióstatos que reflejan la radiación sobre un intercambiador de calor situado en la parte superior de una torre central. Se alcanzan temperaturas de 600 ºC.

Generadores Solares Disco-Parabólicos (Alta Temperatura). Consisten en un conjunto de espejos que forman una figura disco-parabólica en cuyo foco se dispone el receptor solar en el que se calienta el fluido. El fluido es calentado hasta 750 ºC y para generar electricidad, actualmente se utilizan motores Stirling o turbinas Brayton.

En esta misma categoría puedes encontrar el proyecto Luter del que ya hablamos en Soy Medioambiente.

Imagen | Bruno Ramos – Imágenes gratis para blog

Fuente | IDAE

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