Solar energy is used to generate electricity and to produce hot water. Solar energy is energy released by nuclear fusion in the Sun.
Solar cells are devices that convert light energy directly into electrical energy. You may have seen small solar cells in calculators. Larger arrays of solar cells are used to power road signs in remote areas, and even larger arrays are used to power satellites in orbit around the Earth.
Solar panels do not generate electricity, but rather they heat up water. They are often located on the roofs of buildings where they can receive heat energy from the Sun.
Cold water is pumped up to the solar panel. Then it heats up and is transferred to a storage tank. A pump pushes cold water from the storage tank through pipes in the solar panel. The water is heated by heat energy from the Sun and returns to the tank. In some systems, a conventional boiler may be used to increase the temperature of the water.