Solar power is energy from the sun that is converted into thermal or electrical energy. Solar energy is the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source available, and the U.S. has some of the richest solar resources in the world.
Modern technology can harness this energy for a variety of uses, including generating electricity, providing light or a comfortable interior environment, and heating water for domestic, commercial, or industrial use. There are several ways to harness solar energy: photovoltaics (also called solar electric), solar heating & cooling, concentrating solar power (typically built at utility-scale), and passive solar. The first three are active solar systems, which use mechanical or electrical devices that convert the sun’s heat or light to another form of usable energy. Passive solar buildings are designed and oriented to collect, store, and distribute the heat energy from sunlight to maintain the comfort of the occupants without the use of moving parts or electronics.
Solar energy is a flexible energy technology: solar power plants can be built as distributed generation (located at or near the point of use) or as a central-station, utility-scale solar power plant (similar to traditional power plants). Some utility-scale solar plants can store the energy they produce for use after the sun sets.
Benefits of solar energy Here are some benefits of solar energy.
- Solar energy is not only sustainable, it is renewable and this means that we will never run out of it. It is about as natural a source of power as it is possible to generate electricity.
- The creation of solar energy requires little maintenance. Once the solar panels have been installed and are working at maximum efficiency there is only a small amount of maintenance required each year to ensure they are in working order.
- They are a silent producer of energy. There is absolutely no noise made from photovoltaic panels as they convert sunlight into usable electricity.
- There are continual advancements in solar panel technology which are increasing the efficiency and lowering the cost of production, thus making it even more cost effective.
- During operation solar electricity power plants produce zero emissions.