How solar/wind are converted into energy
Most power generators operate by a very simple principle: spin a turbine.
The turbine is a sort of giant magnet that spins around and uses magnetism to move electrons, which we call electricity. Windmills use the wind to spin the turbine.
Solar is very different. It uses sunlight to “excite” electrons, which kind of kicks them from one side of the panel to the other. The panel is designed so that these electrons are channeled in a certain direction, creating a usable electric current.
Wind: there is a physical effect called induction where, if you move a wire around a magnet, an electric current will appear inside the wire. So you can build a generator coil that will produce electricity when you spin it. Wind rotates the blades and they spin the coil. This effect is used in almost all electrical generators, from household diesel generators to most types of power plants: in hydroelectric power plants falling water spins the turbine, in coal-powered and even nuclear power plants the heat is used to boil water and steam spins the turbine.
Solar: there is a different physical effect called the photovoltaic effect. Basically, some specific materials just become electrified when they are agitated by sunlight. Absorbed energy goes not just into heat, like in ordinary materials, but also separates electric charges.
Wind basically works like most mechanical generation, it spins an electromagnet within a stable magnetic field. The interaction of those two fields excites the electrons in (usually) copper wiring wound around the assembly, or induced current in other words. For wind turbines the wind acts on the blades to turn the magnet but you can also burn things to produce steam and have that spin blades, have the output of an engine produce the motion as with generators or a car alternator, you can have water spin it as with hydroelectric, anything that can get it moving will work. Spinning the magnet against the field interaction causes resistance, the more power you want the stronger the fields have to be and the more energy you need to spin the magnet against that resistance.
Solar uses photovoltaic cells, which…just means it turns light into electricity lol.
There’s a layer of one material where electrons can be excited by photons colliding with them. This is a pretty special property, most molecules and atoms don’t react that way, especially crammed into a lattice tight enough to catch many photons. A few materials can get both the excitement and the density at once. There’s another layer above it for those to move into in a controlled way and much like with the copper wirez excited electrons = current. That top layer is connected to the output to carry that current elsewhere. Since photons can pass through the layers without successfully hitting anything, you sandwich a few of those paired layers together to make one solar cell. Then you lay out those cells next to each other on a frame until you get the right panel size and hook them all up to one output for the panel.
Wind pushes blades which rotate that rotational energy spins a turbine generating electricity, solar generally uses thermal collectors or photovoltaic cells https://youtu.be/2fNXZ5fDE6U
Solar: light energy/heat —> electricity
Wind: movement energy —> electricity
You just catch the energy in an other form and transform it to the form that serves you 👾