top of page
  • Writer's pictureBrian Harbin

Understanding the Science Behind Solar Photovoltaic Technology

Photovoltaic technology is made use of in order to produce electrical energy out of sunlight. One PV device is known as a cell, and is usually small and produces between one or two power watts. The cells are manufactured from different types of semiconductor material, which are often incredibly thin in nature.

These cells have to be housed between protective materials made of plastics or glass to make sure they will be able to withstand the elements as most of them will be situated in an exterior location for many years.

Boosting the power output that can be gotten from PV cells requires them to be linked together in chains to create a bigger unit known as a panel or module. These panels can be used either individually or in conjunction with other panels that are all connected to the same form array. This array is then connected, either on its own or with other arrays, to the electrical grid in the form of a complete photovoltaic system.

This modular structure means that it is possible to build PV systems that are able to cope with almost any amount of required electrical power, be it large or small.

PV panels and arrays comprise just one aspect of a photovoltaic system. These systems also include the likes of mounting structures with panels pointed at the sun, together with components that convert the direct current electricity that the panels produce into the alternating current electricity needed to power all home appliances.

Light shining on a PV cell may be absorbed, reflected or go straight through it. Because PV cells are made from semiconductor materials, this means that it is better able to conduct electricity than an insulator but less well than actual conductors such as metal.

Exposing the semiconductor to light allows it to absorb the energy from it and then transfer it to the material’s negatively charged particles, which are referred to as electrons. This additional energy enables the electrons to actually flow through the material in the form of an electrical current that can then be extracted via conductive metal contacts such as solar cells’ grid-like lines and used to power an electrical grid.

How efficient is solar power?

The level of efficiency of a photovoltaic cell is dependent on the amount of power the cell is able to generate in comparison to the energy being delivered by the light, which is an indication of the cell’s effectiveness in regards to converting energy between different forms.

How much electricity can be produced by the photovoltaic cells will depend on the characteristics of the available light (such as wavelengths and intensity) as well as the cell’s own multiple performance attributes.

Solar cells materials

The most common semiconductor material made use of in solar cells today is silicon, which is the planet’s second most abundant material after oxygen, also used in computer chips. Silicon solar cells are highly efficient, low in cost and have a long lifespan.

Other materials used in solar cells include thin-film photovoltaics such as cadmium telluride and perovskite photovoltaics.

While it is interesting to understand the science behind solar power, all an average property or business owner really needs to understand is the benefits that can be brought by a solar power installation.

37 views0 comments


bottom of page