What are the forms of solar energy

The sun's radiation can be used in various ways as a renewable, i.e. inexhaustible source of energy. This happens in so-called solar power plants, of which several types are distinguished. One of the most important forms is solar thermal energy, which uses solar collectors to convert solar radiation into heat for heating and the preparation of hot water. Such solar collectors can be attached to industrial and public buildings as well as to private houses and are therefore a direct and, in many regions of the world, a reliable alternative to the conventional energy supply with crude oil or natural gas. In addition, solar thermal energy is comparatively cheap, because after the installation of the system there are only occasional costs for maintenance. In addition, by using the radiation in solar thermal power plants, electricity can be generated with the help of heat engines and generators. A particularly cheap way of harnessing solar energy is to heat and light buildings and rooms through large glass windows or fronts. A winter garden, for example, made predominantly of glass, captures the sun's heat even in the cold season and enables a bright and warm room climate.

In addition to solar thermal energy, photovoltaics are also considered to be a pioneering form of using solar energy. In solar cells that are connected to one another, the solar radiation is converted into electrical current with the help of semiconductor layers. Solar cells are used in large solar power plants as well as in systems that enable decentralized use.

Since solar radiation has a direct influence on water, wind and plant growth, wind and water energy as well as biomass are also referred to as indirectly used solar energy.