Solar Decathlon Wiki

solar decathlon wiki
How is solar energy harnessed for human benefit?

Please help w/ these questions..And provide Sources/References !

- Type of energy transformations that take place in harnessing the solar energy.
- efficiency of the (solar) energy transformations
- The amount of energy obtained from solar energy?

Thank you !

I saw a link to Earth4Energy above. Earth4Energy is a scam, so beware. I wrote it up in my hall of shame at

The two common collection methods are photoelectric cells (solar cells) that make electricity, and solar heat collectors. Heat collectors are usually either the flat plate variety, or evacuated tube collectors. Wikipedia is a good place to read about how solar cells work. see

I have a few pictures posted at that you will find interesting. The houses are from the Solar Decathlon at Washington DC.

The amount of energy is dependent on where you are on Earth and the time of year. Most governments publish solar insolation maps you can use. I will post links below. For Canada use the link for natural resources Canada. For the USA use NREL (National Renewable Energy Lab). NASA has maps that cover the entire Earth. If you know the annual solar energy per square meter in your area, you can multiply it by the efficiency of the collector to get a feel for how much energy you can extract.

The efficiency of a evacuated tube collector is complex to calculate, but you can get practical equations from Institute SPF – they are European and respected. SPF tests both flat plate and evacuated tube models. I have a graph on my web site that shows the efficiency of Apricus brand tubes. Efficiency will likely be somewhere around 50%. If course, it depends on how cold it is outside. There is also space between each tube, so be careful with the math.

So, in summary: Get the total amount of energy from a solar insolation map (NASA, NREL or NRC). Get solar collector (heat) efficiencies from Institute SPF. Get the solar panel efficiencies from a reputable manufacturer like BP (British Petroleum). Use Wikipedia for links to the theory.

Wind energy is indirect solar energy if you want to enlarge the scope of your studies.

If you need a specific resource, use the contact form on my web site and if I can find what you need, I will post it on my links page for everyone.

Have fun with your project/assignment.

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