According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, there are three main types of solar energy: photovoltaic, concentrated solar and solar heating. The first two technologies create electricity from the sun's rays, while solar heating uses the sun's heat to warm air or water.
Photovoltaic systems create electricity when the sun's energy strikes silicon and creates an electric current. Concentrated solar devices focus the sun's energy on water or another medium, using it to create steam and power electric turbines. Solar heating systems warm air or water with the sun's energy for home or industrial use. There are even solar cooling systems that use the sun's energy to drive warm air through substances that cool the air through chemical reactions.