Solar Energy | Definitions and Applications | Description, Uses, & Facts

Solar energy

It is radiant light and heat from the Sun that is harnessed using a range of ever-evolving technologies such as solar architecture, solar heating, photovoltaic, solar thermal energy,  molten salt power plants and artificial photosynthesis. It is a very important source of renewable energy and its technologies are broadly characterized as either active solar or passive solar depending on how they capture and provide solar energy or convert it into solar power.

Solar energy

Active solar

Active solar techniques include the use of photovoltaic systems, concentrated or high-intensity solar energy and solar water heating to utilize the energy.

Passive solar

Passive solar techniques include selecting materials with favorable thermal objects or light-dispersing properties and designing spaces that naturally circulate air.

Different uses of solar energy

  • It is a completely free source of energy and it is found in a very large amount. Though the sun that is 90 million miles from the planet earth, lights take less than 10 minutes to travel from that much distance.
  • The solar energy that consists of radiant light and heat from the sun can be utilized with some modern technology like photo-voltaic, solar architecture, solar heating, artificial photosynthesis, and solar thermal electricity.
  • The earth gets 174 PW of coming solar rays in the upper atmosphere. About 35% is reflected back to the atmosphere and the rest is absorbed by oceans, clouds, and landmasses.
  • The water cycle is the main result of solar insulation. The earth, oceans, and atmosphere absorb solar energy and their temperature increases. Hotter air rises up from the oceans that causing convection. When these airs come to high altitudes, clouds are created by condensation from water vapor. These clouds cause rains that bring the waterfall back to the earth’s surface which completes the water cycle.
  • Solar energy also use in photosynthesis, green plants convert solar energy into chemical energy which creates the biomass that makes up the fossil fuels.
  • Agriculture seeks to make the large use of solar energy. These include techniques like mixing of plant varieties and timing of planting cycles. Greenhouses are also used to convert light energy into heat energy to promote year-round cultivation of special crops.
  • Solar chimney systems are passive solar ventilation. Its shafts connect the exterior and interior of the building. There functioning can be improved by glazing and using thermal materials.
  • This energy can also be used for making brackish, potable or saline water. Without using chemicals or electricity, wastewater can be treated. Making salt from seawater is also one of the oldest uses of solar energy.


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