The sun beams down enough energy every hour to give the whole planet’s global energy needs for a whole year.
Solar energy is the technology used to harness the sun’s energy and make it productive. Though, we are only utilizing solar energy to give only one tenth of one percent of all the global energy demand.
A lot of people are familiar with solar panels, or photo voltaic cells, used on things like spacecraft, rooftops and handheld devices like calculators. The cells are made up of semiconductor materials like those found in computer chips.
When the sunlight shines on the cells, electrons are knocked loose from their atoms. The electrons then produce energy, as they flow through the cells.
On a much larger scale, solar thermal power plants use various techniques to concentrate the sun’s energy as a heat source. The heat is then used to boil water to drive a steam turbine which generates electricity in much the same way as coal and nuclear power plants, supplying electricity to thousands of people.
One technique uses long troughs of U-shaped mirrors that focus sunlight on a pipe of oil that runs through the middle. The hot oil then boils water to provide electricity generation.
Solar energy is an infinite source of fuel that is pollution and often noise free. The technology is also very useful. For instance, solar cells are capable of generating energy for out of the way places like satellites in the Earth’s orbit and homes in the middle of nowhere, as easily as they can power buildings in large cities and futuristic vehicles.