Solar Energy Can Be Used for Heat and Electricity

When converted tothermal (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 Plantsgenerate electricity by using the heat from solar thermal collectors to heat a fluid which produces steam that is used to power the generator.