There are three main ways to harness energy from the sun and convert it into usable energy:
1 – Photovoltaics generate electricity directly from sunlight using solar panels, powering all kinds of things from small electronics like a solar-powered calculator to 100,000+ square foot factories and businesses. The solar power can be from anywhere – from a built-in solar panel on a handheld calculator, from rooftop solar panels on a house or business, or even from a 500+ megawatt solar farm hundreds of miles away.
2 – Solar Heating & Cooling (SHC) systems collect thermal energy from the sun, using the energy to heat and cool homes, and even to heat water. This technology eliminates the need for electricity or gas, which makes it ideal for people living in places without access to power, and for people who can’t afford to pay the high prices of heating their water and cooling their homes.
3 – Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) power systems use mirrors to concentrate the sun’s energy, focusing the rays on solar panels, which produce thermal energy. This thermal energy is used to drive a traditional heat engine, usually a steam turbine, which produces electricity.
Solar energy is an efficient and cost-effective way to produce clean energy. Not only does it save money, but it saves the environment. And you can put solar panels on your own rooftop, reducing your electric bill and dependence on the grid, all while helping preserve the environment by using far fewer fossil fuels. Plus, according to Zillow, rooftop solar increases the average home’s resale value by 4.1 percent. The USA and many of its states have incentives for rooftop solar, making the purchase a no-brainer for many people.