Issues & Policies

You are here

Solar Technology

Solar energy is the cleanest, most abundant renewable energy source available, and the U.S. has some of the world’s richest solar resources. Today, people and businesses across America are harnessing the light and heat of the sun to save money, create jobs, and power our country with clean, sustainable energy.

Solar technologies can be used at or near the point where the energy is needed, referred to as distributed generation (DG). Distributed solar energy is typically located on rooftops or ground-mounted arrays close to where the energy is used. Some solar technologies can also be built at utility-scale, to produce large amounts of energy for transmission and distribution over wide geographic areas.

Learn more about the three major types of solar technology below.

Photovoltaic (PV)

Photovoltaic solar panels directly produce electricity from sunlight.

These solar technologies directly produce electricity which can be used, stored, or converted for long-distance transmission. PV panels can be manufactured using a variety of materials and processes and are widely-used for solar projects around the world.

Solar Heating & Cooling (SHC)

Evacuated tubes are a common type of solar water heating technology.

These technologies generate thermal (heat) energy for water & pool heating and space heating. Some people are surprised to learn that SHC technology can also be used for cooling. Solar heating technologies are cost-effective for customers in a variety of climates.

Concentrating Solar Power (CSP)

This parabolic trough concentrating solar plant uses curved mirrors to reflect sunlight onto a central receiver tube.

Using reflective materials like mirrors and lenses, these systems concentrate sunlight to generate thermal energy, which is in turn used to generate electricity. Similar to traditional power plants, many CSP plants are hundreds of megawatts (MW) in size and some can continue to provide power after sunset.