Print this page Print this page

Solar Energy Basics I - Fundamentals

Harlan H. Bengtson, Ph.D., P.E.

Course Outline

This two-hour, on-line course describes the basic nature of solar energy (electromagnetic radiation) and how it behaves when it strikes an object.  Solar variables such as declination, altitude angle, and hour angle are discussed and methods for determining their value are given. Methods of utilizing solar energy and means of estimating extraterrestrial and terrestrial solar energy are discussed.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

Learning Objective

At the conclusion of this material the student will:

Intended Audience

This course is intended for mechanical, electrical and energy engineers and architects.

Benefits to Attendee

An attendee of this course will have basic knowledge about solar electromagnetic radiation, will be familiar with fundamental solar parameters, and will be able to obtain or calculate values for those parameters and use them in calculations.  An attendee will be prepared to take additional more specialized solar engineering courses.

Course Introduction

This introduction to solar energy provides information about the nature of solar radiation and methods of utilizing solar energy.  Several solar position parameters are discussed along with equations for their calculation. Means are discussed for estimating average extraterrestrial and terrestrial solar radiation rates at a given location for a given month.

Course Content

The course content is in the following PDF file:

Solar Energy Basics I - Fundamentals

Please click on the above underlined hypertext to view, download or print the document for your study. Because of the large file size, we recommend that you first save the file to your computer by right clicking the mouse and choosing "Save Target As ...", and then open the file in Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Course Summary

Solar energy reaches the earth in the form of electromagnetic radiation.  It can be absorbed by an object that it strikes and thus be converted to thermal energy (heat).  Typical methods of utilizing solar energy include, space heating, water heating and generation of electricity.  Several parameters that are used in solar energy calculations were presented and discussed.  Means of estimating monthly average extraterrestrial and terrestrial solar radiation rates at a specified location were discussed.


Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of PDH Center or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered architect and/or professional engineer/surveyor. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.