What is solar energy in simple words

What is solar energy in simple words

Solar energy is a renewable energy source. It refers to the thermal radiant energy of the sun, and the primary manifestation is often called solar rays. In modern times, it is generally used to generate electricity or provide energy for water heaters.

Since the birth of life on Earth, solar energy has mainly survived by the thermal radiation provided by the sun. Since ancient times, humans have also understood that objects can be dried in the sun and used the sun as a tool to make food, such as solar salt and solar salted fish.

With the decrease of fossil fuels, solar energy has become an essential part of the energy for humans and has been continuously developed. There are two ways to use solar energy: light-to-heat conversion and photoelectric conversion. Solar power is an emerging renewable energy source.

Main classification


Photovoltaic panel components are a type of power generation device that generates direct current when exposed to sunlight.

It consists of solid photovoltaic cells made almost entirely of semiconductor materials such as silicon. Simple photovoltaic cells can provide energy for watches and computers. In contrast, more complex photovoltaic systems can provide lighting for houses, as well as traffic lights and monitoring systems, and are integrated into the power grid. Photovoltaic panel modules can be done into different shapes, and the modules can be connected to generate more power. Both rooftops and building surfaces can use photovoltaic panel components and are even used as part of windows, skylights, or shelters. These photovoltaic facilities are often referred to as photovoltaic systems attached to the building.

Light and heat

Modern solar thermal technology aggregates sunlight and uses its energy to produce hot water, steam, and electricity. In addition to using appropriate technology to collect solar energy, buildings can also use the sun’s light and heat by adding necessary equipment to the design, such as giant south-facing windows or using building materials that absorb and slowly release solar heat.

Pros and Cons


(1) Accessible: The sun illuminates the Earth, and there are no geographical restrictions, regardless of land or sea. No matter there are mountains or islands, they can be directly developed and used for accessible collection without mining and transportation.

(2) Harmless: The development and utilization of solar energy will not pollute the environment. It is one of the cleanest energy sources. Today, environmental pollution is getting worse and worse. This is extremely valuable.

(3) Abundant: The amount of solar radiant energy that reaches the Earth’s surface each year is about 130 trillion tons of coal, which is the most abundant energy source that can be developed in the world today.

(4) Long-term: According to the rate of nuclear energy generated by the sun, the storage of hydrogen is sufficient to maintain tens of billions of years, and the life of the Earth is also billions of years.


(1) Instability: Due to the limitation of natural conditions, such as day and night, season, geographical latitude and altitude, and random factors like sunny, cloudy, cloud and rain, in that the solar irradiance reaching a sure ground are intermittent. It is extremely unstable, which makes it difficult for large-scale application of solar energy. To make solar energy a continuous and stable energy source, and ultimately an alternative energy source that can compete with conventional energy sources, the problem of energy storage must be well solved, that is, the solar radiation energy in sunny daytime is stored as much as possible for nighttime or rainy. Still, energy storage is also one of the weak parts in the use of solar energy.

(2) Low efficiency and high cost: Some aspects of the development level of solar energy utilization are theoretically feasible and technically mature. However, some solar energy utilization devices have lower efficiency and higher cost. The current laboratory utilization efficiency does not exceed 30%. In general, the economy cannot compete with conventional energy sources. In the next considerable period, the further development of solar energy utilization is mainly restricted by economics.

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