Q:

How is thermal energy produced?

A:

Quick Answer

Solar thermal panels harness energy from the sun to energize homes and commercial buildings, according to Solar Systems USA. How Stuff Works mentions that geothermal energy is created by tapping into hot water or steam under the Earth to generate heat.

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Full Answer

Geothermal power plants utilize pumps to extract hot water from a well using high pressure. The water is converted into steam that powers turbines to create electricity. The steam is converted back into water thorough a cooling tower and pumped into the ground where the entire process begins again.

Another form of geothermal technology is the use of home heating pumps. Pumps work by warming coolant or water when the weather gets cold. The liquid circulates through pipes and is sent above ground to heat inside areas. The water cools down and is sent into the ground to repeat the process. These systems work in reverse on warmer days.

Solar thermal energy directly converts sunlight into viable energy by using photovoltaic thermal power. Photovoltaic technologies use solar cells made of conductive materials such as silicon. Chemical reactions within the cells generate electric currents when sunlight is available. Another solar thermal method is using the sun's rays to heat fluid to create steam. The steam powers generators and yields power. Concentrating solar power systems use mirrors to reflect sunlight for energy production.

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