How Does Solar Energy Work? A Helpful Guide

How Does Solar Energy Work? A Helpful Guide

For many years, the world has sought a replacement for the use of fossil fuels which have been destroying our planet over the past 100+ years. One of the most promising contenders is the use of solar energy.

Harnessing the power of the sun, solar technology has come a long way and is now a key player in the clean energy movement.

But how exactly does solar energy work? In this blog post, we'll discuss the principles behind solar power generation and will explore how it works, its applications, and the benefits it provides.

What Is Solar Energy?

Solar energy simply refers to the light and heat emitted by the sun. This energy can be harnessed and converted into usable electricity through solar panels, the most common being photovoltaic (PV) panels and solar thermal systems.

Solar energy is a renewable and abundant resource, offering a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. It is estimated that the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth's surface in just one hour is sufficient to meet global energy demands for an entire year.

Not only does solar energy produce electricity, but it can also be used for passive heating and lighting. By using passive solar design principles, buildings can take advantage of the sun's energy to naturally heat and light up spaces, which helps to cut down on the use of artificial heating and lighting systems.

This method helps to save energy while also making people in buildings more comfortable and lowering utility bills. Thanks to new developments in solar technology, along with lower costs and incentives from the government, solar energy systems are being used more and more all over the world.

From small-scale residential installations to large-scale solar farms, solar power is playing a major role in the renewable energy sector. The capacity of solar energy systems has been growing rapidly for many years, managing to get the better of many other forms of renewable energy and even fossil fuels in some regions.

Solar PV Technology

Solar PV panels are perhaps the most common solar technologies. Solar panels work through several photovoltaic cells, typically made from silicon, which produce electricity when in contact with sunlight.

Due to the internal structure of the solar cell, it creates an electric field at the junction where the different layers meet. This electric field makes the free electrons move in a specific direction, which generates a current.

The movement of electrons in a solar cell creates a direct current (DC), which is then changed into alternating current (AC) using an inverter to make it work with regular electrical systems.

Solar Thermal Technology

While PV technology directly converts sunlight into electricity, solar thermal systems utilise the sun's heat to generate power.

Solar thermal systems consist of collectors that absorb sunlight and convert it into heat. These collectors can be flat-plate collectors, evacuated tube collectors, or concentrating collectors, depending on what they are being used for.

Within the solar collector, a heat-transfer fluid, such as water or a heat-transfer oil, is circulated. This fluid then absorbs the heat from the sunlight and becomes hot. The hot fluid is then passed through a heat exchanger, where its heat is transferred to water or another fluid, generating steam.

The steam produced drives a turbine connected to a generator, producing electricity. Alternatively, the heat can be used directly for heating purposes in residential or commercial buildings.

Applications of Solar Energy

Solar energy is used in various areas, like homes, businesses, big solar farms, and even remote places. When you have solar panels on your roof, you can power your entire home with the sun's energy, cutting back on your need for traditional electricity and saving money on your bills.

Businesses can use solar power to meet their energy needs, saving on costs and showing they care about the environment. Large solar farms can produce tonnes of electricity, which can then be used to power up entire communities and industries.

Solar energy is particularly beneficial in remote areas where access to traditional energy sources is limited, providing a reliable source of power for off-grid communities.

Benefits of Solar Energy

The biggest advantage of solar energy is that it can be used in tons of different places, like homes and big power plants. This means communities can choose the energy sources that work best for them, which helps them stay powered when dealing with changing energy needs and environmental issues.

Moreover, improvements in solar technology are still lowering costs and enhancing efficiency, making solar energy more accessible and cost-effective. Innovations like photovoltaic cells with better conversion rates and easier installation methods are helping solar power become more popular globally.

In addition to its immediate advantages, solar energy also has some other effects on society and the environment. By cutting back on our use of fossil fuels, solar power helps tackle issues like dwindling resources, political conflicts, and environmental damage caused by traditional energy sources.

Decentralising energy production with solar systems gives people and communities more control over their energy future. This shift not only boosts energy security but also helps make clean and sustainable energy more accessible to everyone, promoting social fairness.

In short, the growing use of solar energy is changing the energy game to a more sustainable and strong future. With its many advantages in terms of the environment, economy, and society, solar power is key in shifting towards a cleaner, greener, and fairer energy scene.


Solar energy represents a sustainable and promising solution to our growing energy needs. By harnessing the power of the sun, we can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, mitigate climate change, and create a cleaner, more sustainable future for generations to come.

If you wish to install solar panels, the team here at Balance Power can help you. Solar panels are a great way to produce your own renewable electricity for a business or living space. Please do not hesitate to contact our team if you are interested in solar power.