Solar energy is radiant light and heat from the sun harnessed using a range of ever evolving technologies such as solar heating, photovoltaics, solar thermal energy, solar architecture and artificial photosynthesis.
It is an important source of renewable energy and its technologies are broadly characterized as either passive solar or active solar depending on the way they capture and distribute solar energy or convert it into solar power. Active solar techniques include the use of photovoltaic systems, concentrated solar power and solar water heating to harness the energy. Passive solar techniques include orienting a building to the Sun, selecting materials with favorable thermal mass or light dispersing properties, and designing spaces that naturally circulate air.
The development of affordable, inexhaustible and clean solar energy technologies will have huge longer-term benefits. It will increase countries energy security through reliance on an indigenous, inexhaustible and mostly import-independent resource, enhance sustainability, reduce pollution, lower the cost of mitigating global warming.