Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Storage of solar energy

Solar energy is the renewable energy that can be obtained from the sun. In order to harness solar energy effectively, proper sunlight must be ensured. When there is proper sunlight, solar energy can be cost effectively used for several purposes. In case there is less sunlight or no sunlight at all, solar energy cannot be used. However, to utilize solar energy beneficially, it must be available at all times. But during night or on cloudy days, solar energy is not available. Therefore, it needs to be stored to fulfill the energy requirements at any given time.

There are several methods available for storing solar energy. Thermal mass systems are used to store solar energy in the form of heat for domestic uses for daily or seasonal durations. Solar energy can be stored at domestically useful temperatures in materials like paraffin wax and Glauber’s salt. These materials are easily available and less expensive.

Solar energy can be stored at high temperatures in molten salts. They can be used effectively to store solar energy at low costs and for use in conventional heating systems. Off grid solar photovoltaic systems use chargeable batteries to store excess electricity generated from solar energy. Pumped storage hydro electricity stores in the form of pumped water when solar energy is available. This stored energy is used to generate electricity during periods of high demand.

Storage of solar energy for future use is at present an expensive method. The costs of such technologies must be brought down so that more quantity of solar energy can be stored and harnessed.

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