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Solar Energy

Solar energy is the cleanest, most abundant renewable energy source available. With this tremendous potential, it is no surprise that solar is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the American economy, and more than 6,100 solar companies currently employ people in every state. States across the country understand the promise of solar power, and California, Arizona, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Nevada are all leading the way in domestic solar installations.
Solar is not only clean, it is also affordable. For example, in winter of 2014, Minnesota approved chose solar farms over natural gas based on price alone.
Solar is also a great way to create needed jobs in America. Generating power with solar creates seven times as many jobs as generating power with dirty, dangerous, and increasingly expensive fossil fuels like coal.
Solar energy plays an important role in fighting climate change and weaning us off fossil fuels. However, solar projects, like other development, should be developed sustainably to avoid harming sensitive plant and animals, for example by being built on previously disturbed lands.

How Does It Work?

Solar technology allows us to capture the sun's energy in two principal ways. First, solar PV (photovoltaic) panels, which frequently sit atop buildings, convert sunlight directly into electricity. These solar panels are made of cutting-edge materials, often silicon, similar to computer chips. As light passes through the panels, it creates a current that generates electricity. This process of converting light (photons) to electricity (voltage) - hence the word “photovoltaic.”

Second, local solar thermal systems can use the sun's heat to warm water for our businesses and homes. Large-scale concentrated solar power (CSP) systems produce energy at a central power plant using mirrors and receivers to convert solar energy into heat. This heat can then be used to produce electricity via a steam turbine driving a generator.

Learn more about solar technology.