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What is solar energy? Solar energy is light or heat (radiant energy) that comes from the sun. Although solar energy is the most abundant energy source available, harnessing the energy effectively can be problematic. In 2008, solar only provided 0.02% of the world’s energy.
Solar Cells Solar or photovoltaic cells are made using silicon which is heated and melted at high temperatures and then formed into wafers.
Solar Power When sunlight hits the solar panel, electrons are loosened and solar energy is converted into electrical energy.
Solar Thermal Solar thermal plants use the sun’s rays to heat liquid, which then is used to heat the water and produce steam. The steam can then be used to drive a turbine and generate electricity. The sun has traditionally been and is still used for heating, cooking, etc.
Pros Cons solar cells take up large amounts of space solar cells are difficult and expensive to make the sun does not deliver that much energy to any one place for too long and is not always out requires lead and mercury in the manufacturing • the sun is free! • storage systems can be used to collect the sun’s energy • manufacturing solar cells produces up to 300 times less toxic emissions that coal power plants • pollution-free when operating