Students watch a video about solar energy and two different technologies that convert solar energy into other energy forms, including electricity. Students then test their knowledge of solar energy presented in the video with the “Solar: fact or fiction?” worksheet.
The sun is the Earth’s main source of energy. It can be transformed to other energy forms we can use. The two main forms of solar energy transformation technologies are photovoltaic (electricity) and thermal (heat). Solar energy is considered one of the cleanest and most renewable sources of energy. There are no direct greenhouse gases released into the environment from the generation of energy from solar power.
Solar photovoltaic technology converts sunlight into direct current electricity by using semiconductors contained in solar panels. When the sun hits the semiconductor material electrons are freed, forming an electric current. The electricity is available immediately by the home owner, and can be used to charge batteries or fed to an electric grid. Solar panels are visible on roof tops on homes and businesses.
Solar thermal technology transforms solar energy to heat, which is then used to heat homes, businesses and even swimming pools, or transformed again into electricity.