What is Solar Energy?
Solar energy has been used by mankind since... well, forever (ever fry an egg on the sidewalk?)! Solar energy takes advantage of the sun's rays to generate heat or electricity. It is an infinitely renewable resource and unique for its ability to generate energy in a quiet, clean, and consistent manner.
There are two types of solar energy – passive and active. Essentially this means how it converted into useful energy.
Passive solar energy is capturing of the sun's energy without the use of mechanical devices. For example, using south-facing windows to provide natural lighting and heat for your home.
Active solar energy uses mechanical devices to collect, store, and distribute solar energy. Examples of active solar energy include solar space heating and solar water heating.
Then there are several types of energy that this solar energy can be converted into. The most common are Solar Thermal Energy, Concentrating Solar Power and Photvoltaic (PV) Solar Power.
Photvoltaic Solar Power is energy created by converting solar energy into electricity using photovoltaic solar cells.
PV Solar Power can be used on a small scale, such as personal homes and businesses for electricity, cooling, and lighting. Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) is designed for larger scale projects, such as adding to an existing or new electrical grid. Solar Thermal Energy converts Solar Energy into heat.