Indirect Solar Energy: Explained

Indirect Solar Energy Explained

Sun is the ultimate source of energy. The sun in this form supports all life forms on earth and is also the primary source of some major forms of energy. With the help of the latest technology, solar energy can be converted into various useful forms of energy. 

The transformed energy can then be utilized in myriad ways like transportation, cooking, heating, electricity, and others. There are two essential methods through which solar radiation can be converted into usable forms of energy. Those are Direct and indirect forms. These methods are getting increasingly popular for producing clean and renewable energy sources. 

What is Indirect Solar Energy?

Solar energy can be converted into other useful forms of energy indirectly when converted from one form to another, then to the intermediate form, and then to the final form. It involves multiple transformations of solar radiation until it is finally converted into an indirect form of solar energy. 

It is called Indirect solar energy since it is obtained not directly from the sun but indirectly via other energy forms created through sunlight. Indirect forms of solar energy are now becoming the alternative source of energy production to meet the ever-rising demands of electricity.

What are Indirect Forms of Solar Energy?

Indirect forms of solar energy are those which are technologically created utilizing the indirect effects of the sun’s energy. Most forms of energy present on the earth are usually forms of indirect solar energy. Hydropower can be an example of an indirect form of solar energy. The sun’s rays warm the ocean water, which is then converted into vapors that condense as rain, falling into rivers that contain dams and turbines, which eventually convert that flow of water into hydropower. The various forms of Indirect solar energy are:

1. Wind Energy

Wind Energy

Wind energy is a form of solar energy which indirectly utilizes the solar rays to produce wind by raising the temperature of the air. When the atmospheric air temperature rises after getting heated by the sun, it rises, and the cold air takes the place of the hot air. This continued circulation of air ultimately results in the flowing of wind. The flow of the wind rotates the blades of the turbines, and through this, the turbines are used to convert wind energy into electricity.

In this way, wind energy becomes a product of indirect energy conversion and depends primarily on the speed of the movement of the wind. Other factors that affect the flowing pattern of the wind are mountains, water bodies, earth rotation, vegetation, etc. This form of energy is also very beneficial since it is clean, renewable, and produces no pollution. If you are interested in using wind energy at home, you can try using one of The Best Residential Vertical Wind Turbine Kits.

2. Biomass


Biomass is a renewable energy source produced using organic materials such as the remains of plants and animals. It is thereby a sustainable source of energy production since it utilizes such materials to produce heat or electricity. Biomass is an indirect form of solar energy since plants receive energy from the sun during photosynthesis and are ultimately used to produce biomass. Thus, biomass is another form of indirect solar energy and is eco-friendly and non-polluting.

Biomass uses energy stored from the sun and can include materials such as plants and their wastes, starches, food crops, all of which have the sun as their energy source. Fermentation of biomass which is brought about by bacteria, produces a combustible gas mixture known as Biogas. Biogas is generated through bio-digestion and is thereby non-polluting. 

3. Hydro Energy 

Hydro Energy

Hydroelectricity energy is another indirect source of solar energy that generates power by utilizing a dam or turbine to alter the flow of water. It runs the turbine using the water stream, where a mass of water is reversed and passed through the hydraulic turbine which then drives an electric generator thereby producing electricity. The sun plays a vital part in the entire process since it provides heat to the water bodies and initiates the evaporation process.

The evaporated water then condenses in the form of clouds and falls as rain. In this way, the sun is the ultimate energy source for hydropower. The water body then flows with potential energy that is converted into hydropower by a hydropower plant. Hydro energy is thus an indirect form of solar energy and is also renewable and non-polluting.

4. Geothermal Energy

Geothermal Energy

Geothermal Energy is the energy in the form of heat contained within the earth. It is the heat trapped beneath the earth’s surface and is the leftover of the molten rocks or radioactive decay formed billions of years ago. It is a renewable energy source since the heat is continuously produced within the earth’s surface. Geothermal energy is a form of thermal energy produced from the earth’s crust. There is significant pressure and high temperature in the earth’s interior, which is used for various energy and heat purposes. Geothermal energy uses multiple methods such as hydrothermal reservoirs, using hot and dry rocks, or a heat pump. This energy can then be used for numerous purposes such as cooking, bathing, electric power generation, heating, and others. Geothermal energy is an indirect form of solar energy and continuously produces energy. It is a reliable and highly efficient form of energy and environmentally friendly. 

5. Tidal Energy

Tidal Energy

Tidal Energy is the energy produced by the surge of ocean waters during the rise and fall of tides. During the presence of the moon or sun overhead of the ocean, due to the gravitational force, the water is attracted to them, thereby causing the temporary increase in ocean levels, forming the tides. The situation remains similar when the sun or moon comes underfoot, and the gravitational force pulls the water downward, resulting in low tides. Therefore, due to these gravitational forces and the earth’s rotation, there are two high tides and two low tides each day. The intensity produced in the water through the rise and fall of tides is a form of energy that is then used to push a turbine resulting in the generation of electricity. This is a renewable source of energy and produces no harmful emissions. Tidal energy is another indirect form of solar energy obtained from tides and is transformed into various other useful forms. This form of energy lasts longer and is cost-effective. 

6. Ocean Thermal Energy

Ocean Thermal Energy

When the sun’s radiation falls on the ocean’s surface, the water’s temperature on the surface rises. In contrast, the water deep inside the ocean remains cold. This results in the difference in temperature in the various layers of the ocean, resulting in the generation of electricity. A plant is installed between the cold and warm layers, using a fluid that vaporizes at low temperatures. This fluid evaporates on reaching the region’s surface and turns a turbine to generate electricity. It is thereby a renewable source of energy and can be highly efficient. 

Difference between Direct and Indirect Solar Energy

Indirect solar energy involves multiple transformations of the solar radiation to different forms of energy to finally convert it to a useful form of energy. Direct solar energy involves a single conversion of sun rays into a usable form of energy. 

In the case of Indirect energy conversion, solar energy goes through several changes and conversions to finally become usable. In the case of direct energy conversion, the sunlight is directly converted into some usable form of energy such as heat or electricity. 

The production of electricity through fossil fuels is an example of indirect solar energy where fossil fuels provide heat, which then produces steam, and then the resulting energy produces electricity. On the other hand, when photovoltaic cells use sunlight to produce electricity, it is Direct solar energy.


The radiation from the sun is thereby used for meeting the current energy requirements of the world. In this way, direct and Indirect forms of solar energy make it possible for the world to run. Indirect forms of solar energy are widely accepted since they are renewable and non-polluting.

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