Solar Power: Let the Sun Shine
By Benjamin Kahane.
There are two major types of solar power technologies: photovoltaic and solar thermal.
Photovoltaic solar power utilizes the photoelectric effect. A semiconductor material absorbs light and the photons in the light beam are routed through the semiconductor and harnessed in the form of direct-current electricity. The semiconductor cells are electrically tied together in what is commonly called a solar module. These modules can be used to power a direct-current source, such as a battery bank or a water pump, or more commonly the power can be converted into alternating-current power to be used in a home or fed into the electric grid.