Solar Energy Can Be Used for Heat and Electricity
When converted to thermal (or heat) energy, solar energy can be used to:
- Heat water — for use in homes, buildings, or swimming pools
- Heat spaces — inside homes, greenhouses, and other buildings
Solar energy can be converted to electricity in two ways:
- Photovoltaic (PV devices) or “solar cells” change sunlight directly into electricity. Individual PV cells are grouped into panels and arrays of panels that can be used in a wide range of applications ranging from single small cells that charge calculator and watch batteries, to systems that power single homes, to large power plants covering many acres.
- Concentrating Solar Power Plants generate electricity by using the heat from solar thermal collectors to heat a fluid which produces steam that is used to power the generator.