Of the 170 pica watts (PW) of solar energy penetrating the upper atmosphere 70% is absorbed by oceans, land masses and clouds. This amounts to 3,850,000 exajoules (EJ) of energy per year.

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Solar energy is the use of solar radiation to meet practical energy needs by providing a renewableenergy source. This can be harnessed in different levels around the world. Closer to the equator the sun’s energy is more intense such that more “potential” solar energy is available. Solar technologies can be categorised into two forms, namely passive and active. Passive technologies use materials with favourable solar properties. Active solar technologies increase the supply of energy.

As many developing countries are positioned close to the equator it is advantageous to utilise the energy available from the sun as an energy source.

Some examples of passive solar technologies used in developing countries are:

The main active solar technology is SolarPhotovoltaics (PV) for electricity production. These can be used for:
- Solar street lamps
- Solar powered pumps

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Solar PV cells can be used in rural areas of developing countries to provide electricity to run street lamps through to large-scale applications such as providing electricity for off grid hospitals as an alternative to diesel generators. The biggest problem with solar energy from PV panels is the cost. For small-scale household solutions solar energy in the form of PV panels is not appropriate technology, however as costs reduce the market gap may widen.

Last edited by Miriam Hansen .
Page last modified on Tuesday September 14, 2010 10:22:38 GMT.
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