Solar power is the term used to describe energy derived directly from the Sun. The Sun provides the basis of energy for all living things. Sunlight has been utilised by humans for drying crops, and heating water and buildings for thousands of years. Solar energy is free and will never run out. Today we can use solar panels to turn the Suns energy into useful energy.
There are a number of different ways that we can utilise the Suns energy. Passive solar heating involves the design of homes and other buildings to make full utilisation of direct sunlight for heating purposes. Houses can be designed with large windows in the south facing walls and small windows in the north facing walls. This allows natural light and heat from the Sun to be used to its full potential and reduce the need for electricity.
Active solar heating includes the use of solar panels to heat large bodies of water mainly for domestic hot water systems, but also swimming pools. Photovoltaics allow the direct conversion of solar radiation into electricity by the interaction of light with the electrons in a semiconductor cell. As development in solar technology has increased, it has become much cheaper and the UK is starting to invest in the technology.