What is Solar Energy? The Basics You Need to Know

The use of solar energy has increased significantly in the last couple of decades. Solar energy offers a more eco-friendly than non-renewable energy sources like fossil fuels.

Solar energy is accessible to the everyday individual through the installation of solar panels in the home. Many people are choosing to find a local solar panel installer and get solar panels on their rules or in their gardens to provide ongoing renewable energy to power their properties.

In this article, we are going to discuss what solar energy is and what the future of this renewable energy source looks like as we continue through the 21st century.

benefits of REC solar panels

What is Solar Energy?

Solar energy is the type of energy that is obtained from the light and heat emitted by the Sun. It can be harnessed and converted into usable energy to provide a sustainable way to power homes and businesses.

There are a few different types of technologies that can be used to harness solar energy. The three main types of technologies are photovoltaic systems, solar thermal systems, and passive solar systems.

Photovoltaic (PV) systems

A photovoltaic system is a type of technology that converts sunlight directly into electricity via solar cells made from semi-conductive materials like silicon. These cells capture the energy from some mites and release electrons to generate an electron current.

Solar thermal systems

Solar thermal systems harness the Sun’s energy to generate heat, which can be used for heating water and homes or producing steam for electrical production on a larger scale. The two main types of solar thermal systems are concentrated solar power (CSP) and solar water heating systems.

CSP systems use mirrors and lenses to concentrate sunlight onto a small volume of fluid. Doing so causes the production of steam that can power a turbine, which, in turn, powers an electricity generator.

A solar water heating system uses sunlight to heat water, providing hot water for residential use.

Passive solar systems

Passive solar systems don’t require electrical or mechanical processes to produce electricity. Instead, they use certain materials to capture light, heat, and energy, store this energy, and distribute it appropriately.

A common example of a passive solar system is a large window, which maximises the amount of natural light and heat entering a room. Architects may place windows in a building such that they face the side of the building that receives the most sunlight.

solar energy basics

What Are the Benefits of Using Solar Energy?

So, why should you switch to using solar energy over other forms of energy? Here are some of the key benefits of going solar:

  • Solar panels and solar battery storage are suitable for most homes
  • Solar energy is a renewable source of energy that reduces the need for non-renewable alternatives, such as fossil fuels
  • Solar energy is better for the environment than the use of fossil fuels for electricity
  • Solar panel installation can reduce the cost of energy in your home or commercial building
  • Solar panel grants are available in the United Kingdom
  • Solar panels on your property provide some resilience to main grid power cuts or outages