[Infographic] Solar means business: ranking America’s Top 20 corporate solar users
Sunlight is everywhere. It doesn’t pollute, it’s infinite (well, almost) and America has one of the largest infrastructures to capture sunlight in the world. During the last decade, both distributed generation and utility-scale generation have grown quickly. This expansion has made solar energy competitive. If supported, solar energy can help us tackle the issues of energy security and climate change.
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Solar energy is classified as “active” or “passive.” Active technology refers to electric or mechanical contraptions that draw on the sun to produce electricity or provide heating and cooling. Passive solar involves intelligent design of buildings to make the most of the sun’s ability to light, heat or cool.
Photovoltaic (PV): the technology generates electricity by turning solar radiation into direct electrical current. PV has succeeded in residential, non-residential, utility-scale and off-the-grid applications.
Solar Thermal Electric (STE): It’s also known as concentrating solar power (CSP). The technology uses mirrors or lenses to a large area of sunlight into a concentrated beam. The beam heats a source, often water, producing steam that turns a turbine.
Concentrating Photovoltaic (CPV): The technology also uses mirrors and lenses to concentrate sunlight. However, instead of using the sunlight to produce steam, the beam is aimed at high-efficiency PV cells.
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Solar Heating and Cooling (SHC): The technology captures and stores solar energy for controlled use in homes, offices, pools, and so forth. Solar water heating is an example of SHC technology.
However, strong leadership is necessary to usher in a whole new era of energy use. Following is a list of the top corporations that are already putting solar energy to wide-scale use