Climate Change Life on Land Life in the Water Protecting Wildlife Space
solar energy

What is Solar Energy?

April 4, 2022 - Martina Igini

Solar power is a valuable energy source that can be used to heat buildings and produce electricity. It is the most abundant, fastest, and cheapest energy source on earth, and it generates minimal greenhouse gas emissions. Countries around the world are planning to achieve net-zero emissions in the upcoming decades and solar energy could be the secret weapon to reach this ambitious goal. 

Ancient Egyptians were the first people known to use the energy from sunlight to heat their homes. Fast forward to today, societies around the world have developed innovative technologies that allow us to turn the sun’s energy into electricity that powers heating and cooling systems, transportation, lighting, and ventilation, just to name a few. China is by far the largest investor, but the United States, Japan, Australia, and India are also betting on this incredible resource. 

Before we move on to some of the advantages and disadvantages of solar, it is worth answering a question: how does solar energy work? 

What is Solar Energy and How Does It Work?

Humans install solar panels in places where they are mostly exposed to the sunlight, for example on the roof of a house. The sun shines directly on so-called photovoltaic (PV) panels, which contain cells that can capture the sunlight’s energy. This energy generates electrical charges that move around the cells, causing electricity to flow.

Believe it or not, solar panels can even work on cloudy days when the sun is not visible at all!

Advantages of Solar Energy

Disadvantages of Solar Energy

Should We Still Use Solar Energy? 

Solar energy is an incredibly valuable and infinite resource that can play a huge role in the world by helping to reach the goal of zero-net emissions that many countries have set. This renewable resource, along with all others, certainly has undeniable potential and it is still a better alternative to environmentally unfriendly fossil fuels, beyond being the best chance we have at stopping global warming. 

Check This Out Next: What is Renewable Energy?


Are you a school and want to collaborate with Earth.Org?

contact us

Are you a student working on sustainable projects or learning about climate change and the environment?

Submit your story for a chance to be featured on Kids.Earth.Org

send us your news
Share this article with your friends

About the Author

Martina Igini

Martina is an environmental journalist based in Hong Kong. She holds two Bachelor's degrees, one in Journalism and one in Translation and Interpreting Studies as well as a Master's degree in International Development. Passionate about writing and languages, her interests include sustainability and the role of public policy in environmental protection, especially in developing countries. She has extensive experience working as a journalist and in 2020, she joined the outreach team of the United Nations Global Communication Department. She currently works for Earth.Org and is the website's main writer and editor.