Solar Energy Engineering

You've probably heard that the earth receives more energy from the sun in just one hour than the world uses in a whole year. Given the current global warming and fossil fuel implications, it's obvious that engineers have got to figure out ways to realize this opportunity. If you want to discuss the reasons why, we've got more facts here.

In this section we've aggregated some basic data on solar energy engineering, and provided a few ways that you can contribute your comments and ideas, starting with submitting your comments or questions directly on this page. If you need to upload a file(s) to make your point, use the form at the bottom of the page and we'll publish your points.

WHAT IS SOLAR ENERGY

As any high school science teacher can tell you, all energy is solar. Organic life here on earth gathers light and radiation energy from the sun and converts it into pretty much everything else, from plants that feed cows to fossil fuels. But since this is ENGINEERING.com, we'll go a little beyond the science teacher. There are four main areas that we'll explore:

Why Solar Energy?

We've got nothing against wind, hydro or biomass (well, maybe downwind of a biomass digester wouldn't be great), but we can list some excellent reasons to explore solar energy as a way to address the planet's energy needs. More...

Photovoltaics

This process of converting light (photons) to electricity (voltage) is called the photovoltaic (PV) effect. This is possibly the most interesting solar energy area from an engineering perspective. More...

Solar electricity

Certain new power plants in sunny locations concentrate solar power, and using the sun as a heat source, create steam for use in a generator. Perhaps not as cool as PV, but VC money is pouring in and the pictures look like something from a James Bond movie. More...

Passive Solar Systems & Solar Hot Water

Engineers have been brilliant over the years at capturing heat from the sun in passive systems and using that heat for hot water, building heat, etc. Not all of these applications are as obvious as you might think. More...