What’s the difference between PV and other solar energy technologies?

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The main types of solar energy technologies are:

  • Photovoltaic (PV) systems convert sunlight directly to electricity by means of PV cells made of semiconductor materials.
  • Concentrating solar power (CSP) systems concentrate the sun’s energy using reflective devices such as troughs or mirror panels to produce heat that is then used to generate electricity.
  • Solar water heating systems contain a solar collector that faces the sun and either heats water directly or heats a “working fluid” that, in turn, is used to heat water.
  • Transpired solar collectors, or “solar walls” use solar energy to preheat ventilation air for a building.