What is Solar Energy, Definition, Uses, Advantages, & Disadvantage

Solar power is the key to a clean energy future. Every day, the sun gives off far more energy than we need to power everything on earth. That’s why we’re investing heavily in solar plants and why we are now offering solar kits to our customers in Finland, Norway and Sweden.

What is solar energy

What Is Solar Energy?

Solar power is energy from the sun that is converted into thermal or electrical energy. Solar energy is the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source available, and the U.S. has some of the richest solar resources in the world. Solar technologies can harness this energy for a variety of uses, including generating electricity, providing light or a comfortable interior environment, and heating water for domestic, commercial, or industrial use.

Types of solar energy

There are three types of solar energy:

  • Photovoltaic solar energy: used to produce electricity;

  • Solar thermal energy: used to heat water;

  • Passive solar energy: which directly takes advantage of sunlight.

1. Photovoltaic Solar Power

The type of energy is made by converting solar energy into electricity to be stored and utilized later. This conversion is done by using photovoltaic solar cells. Light hitting a photovoltaic cell is converted into electricity by semiconductors. A photovoltaic panel consists of several cells producing direct current, which is then converted into alternating current by an inverter. These Panels can be used in small systems or large plants to generate energy from the biggest renewable energy source; Sun.

Solar electricity, Photovoltaic cooling, Photovoltaic solar lighting are the solar applications we can use to take advantage of photovoltaic solar power.

2. Solar Thermal Energy

This Energy is used to satisfy heating needs by capturing the energy of the sun for heating applications such as buildings, water or swimming pools. Solar thermal power can be used for traditional heating applications to satisfy human needs. 

In recent times many developments in solar thermal technology have been made which makes these systems more reliable and more efficient. New technologies are re-imagining solar thermal systems by incorporating photovoltaic (PV) components in it.

3. Passive solar energy?

Photovoltaic solar energy and solar thermal energy use different technology to capture and process the sun’s energy. This is known as active solar energy. However, solar energy can also be used in a passive way, meaning without needing any type of mechanism to collect and use it. This is the oldest method to take advantage of solar radiation.

What is solar energy used for?

There are many uses of solar energy. The most common uses are:

  • Generate electricity;

  • Heat water;

  • Produce “solar cold” and heating;

  • Water crops;

  • Illuminate exterior areas;

  • Solar cars and other inventions.

Solar energy: pros and cons

Solar energy has pros and cons. It’s important to find an energy that works for you, and determining if solar energy will fit into your daily lifestyle is a priority. Here are some factors to consider when deciding which energy choice is right for you.

1. Advantages of Solar Energy

  • Lowers your Electricity Bills

  • Environmentally Friendly

  • Moves us Closer Towards Energy Independence

  • Sustainable

  • Low Maintenance

  • Benefits the Electricity Grid

2. Disadvantages of Solar Energy

  • Expensive Initial Investment

  • It Won’t Work at Night

  • Limited Energy Storage

  • Space Constraints

  • Isn’t 100% Pollution-Free

  • Depends on Location

How does solar energy work?


Each individual panel is constructed of a layer of silicon cells, a metal frame, a glass casing surrounded by a special film, and wiring.  For maximum effect, the panels are grouped together into “arrays” (an ordered series) and placed on rooftops or in large outdoor spaces.  The solar cells, which are also referred to as photovoltaic cells, absorb sunlight during daylight hours.  


Within each solar cell is a thin semiconductor wafer made from two layers of silicon. One layer is positively charged, and the other negatively charged, forming an electric field. When light energy from the sun strikes a photovoltaic solar cell, it energizes the cell and causes electrons to ‘come loose’ from atoms within the semiconductor wafer. Those loose electrons are set into motion by the electric field surrounding the wafer, and this motion creates an electrical current. 


You now have solar panels working efficiently to transform sunlight into electricity, but the electricity generated is called direct current (or DC) electricity, which is not the type of electricity that powers most homes, which is alternating current (or AC) electricity. Fortunately, DC electricity can easily be changed into AC electricity by a gadget called an inverter. In modern solar systems, these inverters can be configured as one inverter for the entire system or as individual microinverters attached behind the panels.


Once the solar energy has been converted from DC to AC electricity, it runs through your electrical panel and is distributed within the home to power your appliances. It works exactly the same way as the electrical power generated through the grid by your electric utility company, so nothing within the home needs to change. Since you still remain connected to your traditional power company, you can automatically draw additional electricity to supplement any solar shortages from the grid.


On cloudy days and overnight, your solar shingles or panels may not be able to capture enough sunlight to use for energy; conversely, in the middle of the day when nobody is home, they may collect surplus energy—more than you need to operate your home. That’s why a meter is used to measure the electricity flowing in both directions—to and from your home.Your utility company will often provide credits for any surplus power you send back to the grid. This is known as net metering.

So what exactly is solar energy? And how could we convert it from a “beam” to electrical energy that irrigates our homes with the electricity they need? Does employing this clean, renewable energy have any negatives or limitations? We will answer all these questions in this article, digging into the details of solar energy and how it is received and converted into other forms of energy through solar panels.

Solar energy uses

As we mentioned earlier, the amount of solar energy that our sun emits is very enormous, and what reaches our planet in one day is capable of generating 200,000 times the daily electrical energy we need. But although solar energy itself is completely clean and free, the process of collecting, converting and storing it is very expensive, and this actually limits our use of it.

Solar energy can be employed and converted into two types of energy, thermal energy and electrical energy, and thermal energy is easier to obtain than electric.

Solar energy applications

One of the most important applications of solar energy, especially photovoltaic, is its use in transportation and transportation, for example:

  •  In 2013, Australia introduced the first solar-powered bus, in an effort to reduce carbon emissions and preserve the environment because an estimated 30% of air pollution is caused by vehicle exhaust. Solar panels.

  • “Planet Solar” boat: It works entirely on solar energy, and it can accommodate on board approximately 60 people. This energy allows it to work for 72 hours, even during the night, and at its maximum speed, which reaches 26 km / h.

  • Solar Impulse: It is a unique aircraft that operates using solar energy, whether day or night. The organizers of this project hope to launch the first round-the-world flight with this aircraft.

Electric power generation

Photovoltaic solar panels directly generate a continuous electric current (DC), and through this current the electrons move within the electrical circuit in one direction, and by placing a lamp in the path of this current we will be able to operate it as is the case in various types of batteries, and solar energy can also be used to generate an alternating electric current where Electrons are pushed and pulled alternately, generating electric current, just as in a car engine, when the wires are wound along with a magnet, which can be done by many renewable energy sources such as wind, coal, as well as solar energy.

The alternating current electricity was chosen in the US grid, mainly because of the low cost of transmitting it over long distances, and it could be converted at any time to DC using an inverter.