Solar energy is energy from the Sun in the form of radiated heat and light. It drives the climate and weather and supports life on Earth. Solar energy technologies make controlled use of this energy resource.
Solar power is a synonym of solar energy and/or refers specifically to the conversion of sunlight into electricity by photovoltaics, concentrating solar thermal devices or various experimental technologies.
In building design, thermal mass is used to conserve heat, and daylighting techniques optimize light. Solar water heaters heat swimming pools and provide domestic hot water. In agriculture, greenhouses grow specialty crops and photovoltaic-powered pumps bring water to grazing animals. Evaporation ponds find applications in the commercial and industrial sectors where they are used to harvest salt and clean waste streams of contaminants.
Solar distillation and disinfection techniques produce potable water for millions of people worldwide. Family scale solar cookers and larger solar kitchens concentrate sunlight for cooking, drying and pasteurization. More sophisticated concentrating technologies magnify the rays of the Sun for high temperature material testing, metal smelting, and industrial chemical production. A range of prototype solar vehicles provide ground, air and sea transportation.