Solar Thermal Power
Solar thermal energy uses the sun’s energy to create heat. Solar thermal heat collectors are classified into low, medium and high heat categories. Low heat collectors are flat plates used for heating small areas such as swimming pools. Medium heat collectors also use flat plates, but are used for residential and business water heating purposes. High heat collectors use mirrors and lenses to concentrate solar light and is generally used in electricity production.
Sunlight can be converted into usable electricity using photovoltaics (also known as Solar Panels) Originally limited to orbiting satellites and other space craft, solar photovoltaic systems can now be found on buildings, automobiles, boats, and more. As the price to manufacture decreases, the use of Photovoltaic cells are increasing.
Solar chemical processes use solar energy to create chemical reactions that can convert energy into storable and transportable fuels. This would allows machinery to operate on solar power despite low-light conditions. Although there are no current applications, scientists are working on using light concentrated by Parabolic Mirrors to separate Hydrogen and Oxygen, leading to an easily storable form of energy.
Solar vehicles are powered by electricity generated by solar panels generally found on the roof of the vehicle. Photovoltaic panels concert solar energy into electrical energy. Unfortunately, completely solar powered vehicles have not been developed to fit practical needs. However, Toyota recently came out with a partially solar power vehicle that helps save energy lost in the vehicle cooling process.