The energy of the sun can be acquired through solar energy panels, but there are other options as well.
A large amount of water might be heated by the sun. When this water begins to steam, it can be used to drive an
electrical generator to produce power for consumption.
Another method is to use photovoltaic cells. Photovoltaic fuel cells generate electricity via chemical reactions. Photovoltaics were developed in 1954 by Bell Laboratories, and were used in the space program during the following decade.
These fuel cells pollute much less than do current forms of power production. They are also quieter and more efficient than power plants. Because the cells use sunlight as their fuel, they
are reliable and inexpensive.
It is difficult to transfer power to some areas. These are the ideal locations for fuel cells, and some locations have successfully used fuel cells already.
Despite early success, photovoltaic cells remain expensive, and are not commonly used as a result. Prices have been dropping rapidly as the technology improves, so in the near future, fuel cells may become more economical.
One common use of photovoltaic cells is in pocket
calculators. Already tens of millions of calculators are using the sun's energy as their power supply. Other uses in homes and industries are also developing.
A major potential market for photovoltaic cells is in poor villages that currently lack electricity. Many experiments are underway, and the sun could easily power the community of the future.
An animation of how the cell works
Buy and sell photovoltaic cells
US DOE photovoltaics program