What is solar energy?

  • Solar energy is energy that comes from the Sun.

  • Solar panels use sunlight to make electricity.

  • Solar energy is renewable and therefore better for the environment.

What is solar energy?

Solar energy is energy in the form of light, produced by the Sun.

Light from the Sun comes as ultraviolet, visible and infra red rays. Visible light is the spectrum of colours we are used to seeing but ultraviolet and infrared cannot be seen.

Why is it important to use solar energy?

Solar energy is a renewable source of energy. It is free and does not damage the environment.

Most electricity is made by burning fossil fuels, which release carbon dioxide and pollution.

Solar energy does not release anything into the air, so it is a clean source of energy and does not damage our planet.

How does solar energy turn into electricity?

When light hits a solar panel it reacts with silicon crystals in each solar panel to produce an electric current.

The electric current can then be fed into the National Grid.

The National Grid is the system of cables and wires that transfer electricity from power stations to houses and businesses across the country.

Solar energy put to good use

Space engineers include solar panels on satellites to produce the energy needed to run their electric circuits.

This is because it is not possible to provide further fuel to the satellites after they have launched, they need to capture the free energy from the Sun.

Solar energy quiz

Test your knowledge of solar energy with this quick quiz.

Where next?

Discover more about this topic from around Bitesize.

How to generate electricity
What are forces?
How to make a magnetic compass