Solar power is an immense source of directly useable energy and ultimately creates other energy resources: biomass, wind, hydropower and wave energy.
Most of the Earth's surface receives sufficient solar energy to permit low-grade heating of water and buildings, although there are large variations with latitude and season. At low latitudes, simple mirror devices can concentrate solar energy sufficiently for cooking and even for driving steam turbines.
The energy of light shifts electrons in some semiconducting materials. This photovoltaic effect is capable of large-scale electricity generation. However, the present low efficiency of solar PV cells demands very large areas to supply electricity demands.
Direct use of solar energy is the only renewable means capable of ultimately supplanting current global energy supply from non-renewable sources, but at the expense of a land area of at least half a million km2.