Both of the primary types of solar power are made by capturing energy from sunlight. Photovoltaic solar energy is the most common type and is produced when photons contained in sunlight hit a silicon solar panel. The other type of solar energy is called solar thermal, which is made by using the heat from the sun to heat water.
Once the sunlight hits the solar panel in photovoltaic solar energy, the photons then excite the silicon molecules, causing them to move around, which generates electricity. The electricity generated by photovoltaic solar panels is then either transferred directly to the electrical grid or stored in a battery until it's needed.
Solar thermal energy can be used to provide hot water for homes and swimming pools; there are a number of solar thermal power plants around the world. Solar thermal power plants use an array of mirrors to concentrate the heat of the sun on a container of fluid. When the fluid boils, it releases steam, which is then used to power a traditional steam generator like those found in coal power plants.
Although many people use photovoltaic solar panels to generate energy for their homes, they can also be used to create large-scale power plants as well. However, photovoltaic solar plants require much more space than concentrated solar thermal plants, which can generate more energy in a much smaller area.Learn More
Some examples of solar energy applications include solar powered window blinds, bulbs, refrigerators, radios, calculators, greenhouses, swimming pools and air conditioning systems. These are just a few of the applications that use this form of energy.Full Answer >
Some of the benefits of solar energy include the fact that it is entirely renewable and unlimited, produces low emissions, is economical and provides jobs. Like all forms of energy, it has benefits and drawbacks.Full Answer >
Solar energy forms through photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into electricity. Solar batteries generate electric power from solar cells composed of a semiconductor material, usually silicon. Solar power is used to power items as small as calculators and wrist watches to complex equipment, such as artificial satellites and spaceships.Full Answer >
Heat energy comes to the Earth as sunlight and leaves in the form of infrared radiation, but greenhouses gases trap some of the radiation before it can escape the atmosphere again, leading to the "greenhouse effect." This gives the atmosphere a great deal of its ambient warmth. However, as greenhouse gases have increased their presence in the environment, the temperature of the Earth has risen as a result.Full Answer >