How We Use Solar Energy

There are lots of ways we use solar energy. We can harness the sun's energy by using solar collectors. These collectors enable us to use the heat from the sun to warm our homes and heat our water. They can be installed anywhere the sun shines but are usually installed on roofs for maximum sun exposure.

There are two ways we can produce electricity from the sun:

  • Photovoltaic Electricity
  • Solar Thermal Electricity

Photovoltaic Electricity

Electricity is produced using photovoltaic cells that absorb direct sunlight just like the solar cells you see on some calculators. This is called Photovoltaic Conversion, which produces a positive charge (+) and a negative charge (-) to create an electric current. This current is transferred to a metal grid and can be used directly or stored in batteries. The electricity these solar cells produce can be used for powering vehicles and satellites, heating and cooling buildings, heating swimming pools, indoor water heating and lighting.

Solar Thermal Electricity

This type of solar power also uses a solar collector. It has a mirrored surface that reflects the sunlight onto a receiver that heats up a liquid. This heated liquid is used to make steam that produces electricity.