Solar energy is the technology used to harness the sun’s energy and make it useable. As of 2011, the technology produced less than one tenth of one percent of global energy demand.
Many are familiar with so-called photovoltaic cells, or solar panels, found on things like spacecraft, rooftops, and handheld calculators. The cells are made of semiconductor materials like those found in computer chips. When sunlight hits the cells, it knocks electrons loose from their atoms. As the electrons flow through the cell, they generate electricity.