What is Solar?
We get most of our energy from the sun. We call it solar energy. It travels from the sun to the Earth in rays. Some are light rays that we can see. Some rays we can't see, like x-rays.
The sun is a star. it is a giant ball of gas. It sends out huge amounts of energy every day. Most of the energy goes off into space. Only a smart part reaches Earth.
We use solar energy in many ways. All day, we use sunlight to see what we're doing and where we're going.
Sunlight turns into heat when it hits things. without the sun, we couldn't live on the Earth - it would be too cold. We use the sun's energy to heat water and dry clothes.
Plants use the light from the sun to grow. Plants take the energy in light and store it in their roots and leaves. That energy feeds every living thing on Earth. We can also burn plants to make heat.
The Sun's Energy is in Many Things
The energy from the sun makes rain fall and wind blow. We can capture that energy with dams and windmills.
Coal, oil, and natural gas were made from the prehistoric plants and animals. The energy in them came from the sun. We use that energy to cook our food, warm our houses, run our cars, and make electricity.
Solar Energy is Renewable
Solar energy is free and clean. There is enough for everyone, and we will never run out of it. Solar energy is renewable. The sun will keep making energy for millions of years.
Why don't we use the sun for all of our energy needs? We don't know how to yet. The hard part is capturing the sunlight. It shines all over the Earth and only a little bit reaches any one place. On a cloudy day, most of the light never reaches the ground at all.
We Use Solar Energy
Lots of people put solar collectors on their roofs. Solar collectors capture the sunlight and turn it into heat. People can heat their houses and their water using the sun's energy.
Solar cells can turn solar energy into electricity. Some toys and calculators use solar cells instead of batteries. Solar panels are made of many solar cells. Some people put solar panels on their home. These solar panels can make enough electricity for a house. Solar panels are good for houses and buildings without access to power lines.
Today, solar energy provides only a tiny bit of the electricity we use. In the future, it could be a major source of energy. Scientists are looking for new ways to capture and use solar energy.