Skip to main content

Solar Energy: Glossary

active solar heating systems: the use of special equipment to capture solar energy, and convert and distribute it as thermal energy.

atom: the basic building block of matter, consisting of protons, neutrons, and electrons.

concentrated solar power: a technology that concentrates solar radiation onto receivers where it is converted to thermal energy. The thermal energy is then used to create steam that powers a turbine that drives a generator to produce electricity.

electromagnetic radiation: the movement of energy, at the speed of light, in the form of electromagnetic waves.

electromagnetic waves: energy radiated in the form of a wave, resulting from the motion of electric charges and the magnetic fields they produce.

electromagnetic spectrum: the range of electromagnetic radiation, from the longest wavelength to the shortest.

electron: a negatively charged particle. Electrons form part of an atom and move around its nucleus.

frequency: a property of a wave that describes how many wave patterns or cycles pass by in a period of time.

fusion: the combining of the nuclei of lighter elements to form a heavier element.

passive solar heating systems: the use of design techniques to capture, store, and use heat from the Sun.

photovoltaic cell: a device, usually made of layers of boron and phosphorous enriched silicon, used to convert solar radiation to electrical energy.

proton: a positively charged particle in the nucleus of an atom.

solar energy: energy emitted by the Sun, which can be converted into other forms of energy, such as heat or electricity.

solar radiation: the total distribution of electromagnetic radiation emanating from the Sun.

wavelength: the distance between two successive wave crests.