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Solar energy harnesses the power of the sun for our use, and it works in two main ways:

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1. Photovoltaic (PV) panels:

  • These are the most common type of solar technology. They consist of solar cells, typically made from silicon, that convert sunlight directly into electricity through a process called the photovoltaic effect.
  • When sunlight hits the solar cell, it excites electrons within the material, causing them to flow and generate an electric current.
  • Multiple solar cells are connected together to form a solar panel, and several panels are combined into a solar array to generate a usable amount of electricity.
  • The generated electricity is usually in the form of direct current (DC), which needs to be converted to alternating current (AC) for most appliances and the power grid. This conversion is done by an inverter.

2. Concentrated Solar Power (CSP):

  • This technology uses mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto a receiver, which absorbs the heat.
  • The captured heat is then used to generate electricity through various methods, such as:
    • Stirling engines: These engines use the heat to drive pistons, creating mechanical energy that is converted into electricity.
    • Steam turbines: The heat is used to create steam, which drives turbines to generate electricity, similar to traditional power plants.
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