solar energy

GC: n

CT: Solar power is energy from the sun that is converted into thermal or electrical energy.
Solar energy is the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source available, and the U.S. has some of the richest solar resources in the world. Modern technology can harness this energy for a variety of uses, including generating electricity, providing light or a comfortable interior environment, and heating water for domestic, commercial, or industrial use.
The U.S. solar market faces both challenges and opportunities; the industry is working to scale up the production of solar technology, and drive down manufacturing and installation costs.
There are several ways to harness solar energy: photovoltaics (also called solar electric), solar heating & cooling, concentrating solar power (typically built at utility-scale), and passive solar.
The first three are active solar systems, which use mechanical or electrical devices that convert the sun's heat or light to another form of usable energy. Passive solar buildings are designed and oriented to collect, store, and distribute the heat energy from sunlight to maintain the comfort of the occupants without the use of moving parts or electronics.
Solar energy is a flexible energy technology: solar power plants can be built as distributed generation (located at or near the point of use) or as a central-station, utility-scale solar power plant (similar to traditional power plants). Some utility-scale solar plants can store the energy they produce for use after the sun sets.

S: http://www.seia.org/about/solar-energy(external link) (last access: 1 February 2015)

N: 1. solar (adj): mid-15c., "pertaining to the sun," from Latin solaris "of the sun," from sol "sun" (see sol). Meaning "living room on an upper story" is from Old English, from Latin solarium (see solarium). Old English had sunlic "solar."
Astrological sense from 1620s. Meaning "operated by means of the sun" is from 1740; solar power is attested from 1915, solar cell from 1955, solar panel from 1964. Solar system is attested from c.1704; solar wind is from 1958.
energy (n): 1590s, "force of expression," from Middle French énergie (16c.), from Late Latin energia, from Greek energeia "activity, action, operation," from energos "active, working," from en "at" + ergon "work, that which is wrought; business; action".
Used by Aristotle with a sense of "actuality, reality, existence" (opposed to "potential") but this was misunderstood in Late Latin and afterward as "force of expression," as the power which calls up realistic mental pictures. Broader meaning of "power" in English is first recorded 1660s. Scientific use is from 1807. Energy crisis first attested 1970.
2. Energy derived ultimately from the sun.
3. Most energy sources on Earth are forms of indirect solar energy, although we usually don't think of them in that way. Coal, oil and natural gas derive from ancient biological material which took its energy from the sun (via plant photosynthesis) millions of years ago. All the energy in wood and foodstuffs also comes from the sun. Movement of the wind (which causes waves at sea), and the evaporation of water to form rainfall which accumulates in rivers and lakes, are also powered by the sun. Therefore, hydroelectric power and wind and wave power are forms of indirect solar energy. Direct solar energy is what we usually mean when we speak of solar power - it is the use of sunlight for heating or generating electricity.
4. The term "solar energy" may be applied to any of the numerous ways in which this energy flow may be converted and utilised: as biological energy, wind energy, wave energy, ocean thermal energy, and especially as direct heat ... and photovoltaic energy.
5. Also, generally describes those renewable energy sources which directly or indirectly are powered by the sun, including direct solar radiation, wind, falling water, biomass and waves.
6. "Solar energy" is also used to specifically describe solar radiation.
7. This term may be applied to any form of energy which has its origin in the sun. In practical terms, it refers to solar radiation falling on the earth's surface and its atmosphere. Almost everything which happens on the surface of the earth depends directly or indirectly on radiant energy received from the sun - either now, or in the past. For example, photosynthesis in plants occurs in the presence of sunlight. Solar energy plays a vital role, therefore, in plant production and has contributed in the past to the growth of forests which subsequently became the coal fields that we exploit today. Oil, too, owes its origin to solar energy.
8. Old-fashioned term: gold coal (energy from solar radiation).
9. Differences between "solar energy" and "solar power": Solar "power" usually means converting the sun's rays (photons) to electricity. The solar technologies could be photovoltaics, or the various concentrating thermal technologies: solar troughs, solar dish/engines, and solar power towers.
Solar "energy" is a more generic term, meaning any technology that converts the sun's energy into a form of energy—so that includes the aforementioned solar power technologies, but also solar thermal for water heating, space heating and cooling, and industrial process heat. Solar energy includes solar daylighting and even passive solar that uses building orientation, design and materials to heat and cool buildings.
10. Cultural Interrelation:
  • Reality: Sol Cinema - World's smallest solar movie theatre.
  • Fiction: We can mention the novel Solar (2010) by Ian McEwan.
S: 1. OED - http://goo.gl/MXswOh(external link) (last access: 1 February 2015). 2 to 4. TERMIUM PLUS (last access: 1 February 2015). 5 to 7. GDT (last access: 1 February 2015). 8. OG - https://bit.ly/2LrA1Pb(external link) (last access: 19 December 2018). 9. http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2007/10/whats-the-difference-between-solar-energy-and-solar-power-50358(external link) (last access: 1 February 2015). 10. http://www.thesolcinema.org/(external link) (last access: 24 June 2016); http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/30/books/30book.html?_r=0(external link) (last access: 24 June 2016).


CR: absorptance, diode (EN), passive solar energy, photovoltaic solar energy, solar pump, solar thermal energy.


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