Solar energy is the energy that is produced by the sun in the form of heat and light. It is one of the most renewable and readily available source of energy on planet Earth. The fact that it is free and does not belong to anybody makes it one of the most important of the non-conventional sources of energy.
Photo-voltaic devices (Solar Electricity Panels) produce electricity right from the sunlight through an electronic process that naturally occurs in material types known as semiconductors.
Electrons contained in these materials are let loose by solar rays that are stimulated to travel via an electronic circuit, sending power to the grid or directly powering electrical devices. This form of energy can be used to power electronic devices, homes, offices and factories. They are often used in locations that are not connected to electricity grid.
The solar energy converted into electricity can be instantly used to power lights or many other devices. Better still, it can be stored in batteries for future use.
Solar cells normally generate direct current (DC)-type electricity. However, it can be converted into AC (alternating current) using a device known as an inverter.
Solar energy can be broadly categorized as active or passive solar energy depending on how they are captured and utilized. In active solar energy, special solar heating equipment is used to convert solar energy to heat energy whereas in passive solar energy the mechanical equipment is not present. Active solar include the use of mechanical equipment like photo-voltaic cells, solar thermal collectors or pumps and fans to trap the solar energy.
Passive solar technologies convert solar energy to heat energy without use of active mechanical systems. It is mainly the practice of using windows, walls, trees, building placement and other simple techniques to capture or deflect the sun for use. Passive solar heating is a great way to conserve energy and maximizing its utilization. An example of passive solar heating is what happens to your car on a hot summer day.