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Distributed Renewable Energies for Off-Grid Communities by Marcia Schlichting, Preben Maegaard, Nasir El Bassam

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Chapter Seven

Solar Energy

Electromagnetic energy (solar radiation) transmitted by the sun (approximately one billionth of which reaches the earth) is the basis of all terrestrial life. “It amounts to about 420 trillion kilowatt-hours, and is several thousand times greater than all the energy used by all people. Solar energy is harnessed by capturing the sun’s heat (through solar heaters) or light (through photovoltaic cells). It is estimated that one square kilometer (about 0.4 square miles) of land area receives some 4000 kilowatts (4 megawatts) of solar energy every day, enough for the requirements of a medium-sized town” (Business Dictionary 2012).

Solar technologies are broadly characterized as either passive solar or active solar depending ...

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