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How is Solar Energy Produced?

Find out how solar energy and power are derived from sunlight. What is needed to convert the sun's rays to useable electricity and heating.


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To know how solar energy is converted into a form of power that can be used, we should first know how this solar energy is produced.

How is Solar Energy Produced - Its Origin

Sunlight is emitted from the sun, travels across the distance between the sun and the earth, and then passes through the upper sections of the earth's atmosphere.

The sunlight penetrates many layers of the atmosphere before it reaches the surface of earth.

When it reaches the surface of the earth, it is in the form of infrared radiation.

It is this radiation that is used by plants as chemical energy in the form of photosynthesis. We use it in the form of heat energy.

How is Solar Energy Produced - How We Use Solar Energy Today

When the sun rays reaches the surface area of the earth, they can be harnessed so that the radiation can be transformed into a useful energy resource. At the earth's surface, the useful radiation is generally known as infrared rays

Once it arrives at the earth's surface, the use of solar energy by man is mainly divided into two areas:
  • To produce electricity
  • To produce heat

How is Solar Energy Produced - How to Use Solar Energy to Produce "Solar Energy Electricity"

In the most common technique for production of electrical solar power, the radiation of solar energy from the sun is harnessed by means of arrays (linked groups) of photovoltaic (PV) or solar cells.

When harnessed, most of the sunlight striking is absorbed into these photovoltaic/solar cells. The photovoltaic/solar cells are subsequently utilized in order to transform the sun's energy into electricity.

These kinds of solar cells are non-mechanical units which are usually built using silicon alloys. Many cells can be linked together to form solar arrays which then are mounted on solar panels.
The vast majority of electrical solar panels appear as black flat cases containing arrays of PV cells that are mounted on the roofs of buildings. These photovoltaic cell arrays are also commonly mounted on stands in areas where they receive the maximum sunlight..

How is Solar Energy Produced - Solar Water Heat Production

Heating water with solar energy is done with two objectives in mind.
  • Hot water used directly for bathing, etc.
  • Hot water or another liquid used to heat air

Using Solar Energy To Produce Hot Water

In a typical design of a collector that uses heat from the sun to produce hot water for direct use, the water can run through a pipe directly to the outlet. Or another liquid can be heated and the heat transferred to the water pipes.

Using Solar Energy To Heat Air Space

By the same token, the hot liquid or water when run through a radiator will heat up the surrounding air and can be used to heat a house or a room.

Efficiency and Advantages of Solar Energy/Solar Power

  • The climate and the location determine how effectively this solar energy for electricity or heat can be captured.

  • One of the most important advantages of solar energy is that sunlight is abundantly available for us.

  • There is no need for bulky equipment to store the power. The cells are mounted on the rooftops, factories and other types of buildings to generate electricity.

  • An outstanding feature of solar power is that it has little negative environmental impact on the planet.

  • The amount of sunlight that reaches the cell decides the amount of power the cell generates. This varies depending on the climate, location and other factors.

  • Solar energy is free and the supplies are unlimited. Only an initial investment is needed for the solar cells, panels, or arrays and the electrical equipment and parts for installation.
When it comes to producing electricity, solar energy helps to ameliorate the reliance on fossil fuels by many countries.

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