|Solar is the fastest growing energy source in the world, and for good reason. It offers a limitless supply of clean, safe, renewable energy for heat and power. And it’s more affordable, more efficient, and more reliable than ever.The advantages of Solar and other renewable power sources are clear: greater independence from imported fossil fuels or carbon emitting coal power, a cleaner environment, diversity of power sources, relief from the volatility of energy prices, more jobs and greater domestic economic development. All over the world, solar energy systems have reduced the need to build more carbon-spewing fossil-fueled power plants. They are critical weapons in the battle against global warming. As the cost of solar technologies has come down, solar is moving into the mainstream and growing worldwide at 40-50% annually.
There are currently three primary solar technologies:
- Solar (photovoltaic) energy allows electricity to be produced in the place where it is consumed, a practice known as distributed generation. Sunlight hours often coincide with peak power demand, so solar panels produce electricity when it is most needed. Reducing peak load through large-scale solar generation improves air quality and reduces the need for new polluting power plants.
- Solar thermal systems provide heat for hot water and space-heating systems for residential or commercial buildings, and can provide energy for air-conditioning in many commercial applications.
- Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) is a solar thermal technology that can provide electricity at utility scale for central power plants.