solar energy

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Energy that is derived from the radiation of the Sun, which is a sustainable, renewable, non‐polluting, and relatively reliable energy source. Nearly all the energy we use is ultimately solar, except perhaps for tidal energy (which is generated mainly by the gravitational pull of the Moon) and nuclear energy. Fossil fuels and biomass fuels are ultimately derived from solar energy. Hydropower and wind power are generated from air and water circulations, which are ultimately driven by solar heating. Solar radiation (insolation) arrives at the Earth's surface at a fairly low temperature, so sunshine is often thought of as low‐grade energy that is not suitable for most uses. It can be made much more useful by concentrating the energy, using solar collectors, or by using solar cells. Also known as solar power.

Subjects: Environmental Science.

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