Solar energy is energy from the sun that we get most. It travels from the sun to the earth in rays. Some are light rays that we can see. Some rays we can’t see, like x-rays. We depend on solar energy and use solar energy in many ways.
Sunlight turns into heat when it hits things. Without the sun, we couldn’t live on the earth, because it would be too cold. We use the sun’s energy to heat water and dry clothes. Solar energy is renewable. The sun will keep making energy for millions of years.
Lots of people put solar collectors on their roofs. Solar collectors capture the sunlight and turn it into heat. People heat their houses and their water using the sun’s energy. Solar cells can turn light energy into electricity. Some toys and calculators use solar cells instead of batteries. Big solar cells can make enough electricity for a house. They are expensive, but they are good for houses far away from power lines.
Today, solar energy provides only a tiny bit of the electricity we use. In the future, it could be a major source of energy. Scientists are looking for new ways to capture and use solar energy.
Solar energy technologies use solar radiation for practical ends. Technologies that use secondary solar resources such as biomass, wind, waves and ocean thermal gradients can be included in a broader description of solar energy but only primary resource applications are discussed here. Because the performance of solar technologies varies widely between regions, solar technologies should be deployed in a way that carefully considers these variations.
Solar technologies such as photovoltaics and water heaters increase the supply of energy and may be characterized as supply side technologies. Technologies such as passive design and shading devices reduce the need for alternate resources and may be characterized as demand side. Optimizing the performance of solar technologies is often a matter of controlling the resource rather than simply maximizing its collection.
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