Forms of energy can be converted from one type to another. One downside of converting forms of energy is that no conversion can be entirely efficient, meaning it’s possible to derive greater utility directly from the initial energy source than by converting it into another form that is more readily usable than its precursor.
Virtually the only practical application of energy capture and conversion is that of natural, renewable resources. For example, electricity can be generated from flowing streams of water. Wheels outfitted with flat, wide spokes can be hoisted down into constantly-flowing channels of water and permanently held there. As those wheels turn, electricity can be funneled into nearby electric grids after the energy is processed through a generator and then a transformer.
The same holds true for the Sun’s energy, though the conversion process is not the same as that of its hydroelectric counterpart. Here’s a bit of basic information about the most elementary concepts behind the utilization of solar energy.
You’ve Certainly Seen Solar-Powered Calculators – Here’s How They Work
Calculators that have short strips of brown, gold, silver, or black plastic on them are either partially or entirely fueled by solar power. These solar energy utilization systems are formally known as photovoltaic systems, though they’re more commonly known as solar cell systems.
Also known as PV systems, this popular form of harnessing the unstoppable flow of light from the Sun to the Earth uses materials that readily conduct electricity generated by the photovoltaic effect to transfer energy to processing systems involving power generators or to be used directly by the owners of such PV systems.
There Are Two Main Distinctions Between Solar Power Systems – Here’s The Second One
As referenced above, the primary type of technology used to harness the power of the Sun, specifically the light that the Sun emits, is known as photovoltaic technology.
The other type of technology that can make use of the Sun’s natural, ongoing supply of energy is known as solar thermal technology. Rather than converting light energy into other forms of electricity that can readily be utilized by modern society, solar thermal technology uses the heat that the Sun puts out to garner usable electricity.
Also known as concentrated solar power or concentrated solar thermal, this type of solar power utilization system involves redirecting a lot of sunlight to a recepticle connected to a heat engine.
As the heat engine converts thermal energy into its mechanical counterpart, it is processed by a power generator before being channeled into an electric grid or used directly by a private owner.