Solar Energy: An Introduction

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9780199652112: Solar Energy: An Introduction

Solar Energy presents an introduction to all aspects of solar energy, from photovoltaic devices to active and passive solar thermal energy conversion, giving both a detailed and broad perspective of the field. It is aimed at the beginner involved in solar energy or a related field, or for someone wanting to gain a broader perspective of solar energy technologies.

A chapter considering solar radiation, basic principles applied to solar energy, semiconductor physics, and light absorption brings the reader on equal footing with the technology of either solar generated electrical current or useful heat. Details of how a solar cell works and then production of current from a photovoltaic device is discussed. Characterization of a solar cell is examined, allowing one the ability to interpret the current-voltage relation, followed by discussion of parameter extraction from this relation. This information can be used to understand what limits the performance of a given solar cell with the potential to optimize its performance. Applications of solar thermal energy are reviewed in detail from passive applications, for example the solar chimney, to active, such as the solar (power) tower, flat plate water heater, and solar thermal electricity generation. Consistency of analysis between the solar thermal applications is used enabling the reader to fully appreciate similarities and dissimilarities between these technologies. Ultimately, the scientist or engineer can understand existing systems, either photovoltaic or solar thermal devices, and design their own technology given the information in this book.

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About the Author:

Michael E. Mackay, Professor of Materials Science & Engineering and Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, University of Delaware

Michael E. Mackay received his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering with distinction from the University of Delaware, then worked for Proctor and Gamble prior to attending graduate school at the University of Illinois (Urbana) where he received M.S. and PhD degrees in chemical engineering. He subsequently became a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Melbourne (Australia), and has had positions at the University of Queensland (Australia), Stevens Institute of Technology, Michigan State University, and is presently the distinguished Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Delaware. He is a nationally and internationally known leader in nanotechnology specializing in how nanoparticles improve polymer performance and their use in making novel devices and materials. Recently, he has focused his research efforts to make polymer-based solar cells that that can be made on any surface.


"Solar radiation is likely to be a key part of our energy future. This textbook presents, with admirable clarity and accessibility, the relevant physics, the technical approach and challenges, and the geopolitical arguments, behind the utilisation of solar power on a global scale." --Fred Taylor, University of Oxford, UK

"Michael Mackay's Solar Energy is a useful contribution to the field by combining photovoltaics and solar thermal energy - two subjects not often seen together in one textbook. The topics are explained at an approachable level, making the book a good entry text for a student or a teacher who may wish to understand solar energy conversion from this broader point of view." --Tom Markvart, University of Southampton, UK

"[T]his is a comprehensive guide to the mechanisms behind current solar technology as well as the physical, interpretable, and quantitative descriptions of how these technologies operate. The book is very clearly written and should be accessible and attractive to most students. Recommended." --CHOICE

"The book is clear and, despite its small size, very dense in information. It stimulates learning by tackling the subject from many points of view. ... The book can be useful to researchers who want to design or improve their devices, and to students, but definitely much more to professors who want to be inspired to prepare for stimulating review lessons." --MRS Bulletin

"Solar Energy is an engaging collection of important information and insights that fills a valuable space between the growing collection of energy-themed textbooks and the more specialized treatises on renewable energy, solar engineering, and PV devices. ... Solar Energy should help readers understand and use the basic science and tools Mackay presents to affect the future--as scientists, engineers, and citizens. It is a timely contribution in a world where carbon emissions and PV installations continue to increase and where the renewable-energy community continues to face the challenge of coupling energy production and storage to fully utilize the power of solar energy." --Physics Today

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