Science & Climate Definitions
What is Solar Power?
Solar power is energy harnessed from the sun that is transformed into different types of energy, including thermal and electricity.
A bevy of innovative and evolving technologies, including photovoltaics, solar thermal energy, solar heating and more are used to harness heat and light, which are converted into thermal or electric energy.
Solar power is considered clean and one of the most abundant of renewable energy sources available.
How Solar Energy Works
Only about 30 percent of solar power is deflected by the Earth’s atmosphere. The remaining 70 percent is absorbed on Earth. (UC Davis)
Active solar generation techniques such as the implentation of solar thermal collector systems like these convert sunlight into thermal or electric energy. (UC Davis)
Harnessing Solar Power
Using renewable energy has been shown to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Often dubbed “green energy,” solar power is just one subset of renewable energy sources. Harnessing solar power depends on a number of factors, including geography and technology. The technology used to harness solar power is characterized either as active or passive, depending on the way it captures and processes sunlight into usable solar energy.
Active solar techniques collect solar radiation which is later converted into a variety of energy sources. Active solar technologies include the implementation of photovoltaics, concentrated solar power, solar thermal collector systems and others to convert sunlight.
Active Solar Technologies
The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is a concentrated solar thermal power plant in California’s Mojave Desert. (Getty Images)