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Solar Thermal vs. Photovoltaic Solar Energy

Peter Killcommons

An experienced medical executive, Peter (Pete) Killcommons founded Medweb, a medical device and software firm, over two decades ago in San Francisco, California. Dedicated to philanthropic work with hospitals across the world, Peter Killcommons also maintains an interest in solar technologies.

The two main types of solar energy technologies are solar thermal and photovoltaic solar energy. Each provides a different approach with its own distinct advantages:
Solar thermal technology transforms sunlight into heat to store it for later conversion to electricity. By concentrating the light from the sun with collectors ranging from plate panels to Fresnel reflectors, solar thermal technology heats water or another liquid. Benefits of this technology include the capacity to convert the solar energy into electricity during non-daylight hours.
Photovoltaic solar technology transforms sunlight directly into electricity, making it viable only in the daytime. Arranged into panels, the photovoltaic cells receive photons from the sun, causing the discharge of electrons which in turn creates an electric current. Advantages of this type of solar technology include the ability to adapt structurally to a diverse range of situations, including small applications.

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