Bell Labs developed the first silicon PV cell in 1954. Before then, solar energy was usually captured and transformed into usable energy in several ways. However, after 1954 solar power began to turn into a valuable source of electricity, which can be used to power devices over long periods.
Initially, solar cells were used to convert solar radiation to electricity at 4 percent efficiency. Still, it has now improved as today solar cells are capable of converting sunlight radiation to electricity at over 20 percent.
Even though the acceptance of solar energy was a bit slow, several federal and state policies have contributed to reducing the overall cost of solar panels. As a result, solar energy has now become widely accepted.
Here’s a guide on understanding solar energy power.
How Does Solar Energy Work?
Generally, a solar panel consists of a metal frame, a layer of silicon cells, wiring to transfer electric current, and a glass casing unit. Silicon is a non-metal that has conductive properties, which makes it capable of absorbing and converting sunlight into functional electricity.
Once light hits the silicon cell, the sun makes electrons in the silicon cell to be in motion. It then causes an electric current to flow. The process is referred to as the photovoltaic effect, and it defines the overall operation of the solar panel technology.
As regards the generation of electricity using solar panels, it involves the use of a photovoltaic effect. Edmond Becquerel originally discovered the photovoltaic effect in 1839. It is a property of particular materials that permits them to generate electric current every time they are exposed to sunlight.
Step 1: The PV process follows the principle of operation outlined below:
Step 2: The silicon solar cells first absorb radiations from the sun
Step 3: Once the sun’s rays fall on the silicon cell, it sets electrons in motion hence causing electric current to flow.
Step 4: Next, wires capture and transmit the direct current (DC) electricity directly to a solar inverter. The solar inverter then converts it into alternating current (AC) electricity.
What is Solar Energy
Solar energy is a form of reusable energy that is generated from the sun. Solar energy is captured in several ways, but the most common method is photovoltaic panels. The photovoltaic panels are responsible for converting the rays from the sun into functional electricity.
Apart from photovoltaic cells’ use for generating electricity, it can also be used in thermal applications for heating fluids or indoor heat spaces. Commercial and residential property owners can design their buildings with passive solar heating and install solar hot water systems to take advantage of the energy from the sun using solar technology.
Additionally, solar panels can be installed at three key scales, including commercial, utility, and residential.
· Commercial Solar Energy Project
These are typically installed on a larger scale than residential solar. Even though individual installations may vary significantly in size, the commercial-scale solar projects serve a specific purpose of providing on-site solar power to non-profits and businesses.
· Residential-Scale Solar Energy Project
This type of solar project is usually installed in open land or rooftops of houses. It is often between 5 and 20 kilowatts; however, it depends on the size of the property.
· Utility-Scale Solar Energy Project
Utility-scale solar projects are generally large and involve several megawatt installations. It is used to provide solar energy to a large number of utility customers.
On the other hand, smaller solar shoppers who cannot afford a solar power system for their homes may choose to use community solar. Community solar is a system that connects utility-scale solar projects to residential consumers.
As a result, community solar farms usually are built-in central locations, unlike those of residential customer’s property. Also, residential consumers can subscribe to a solar community project to enjoy several benefits of solar energy without installing PV panels on their property.
In all, solar energy power has continued to enjoy increased popularity and usage in both residential, commercial, and utility projects. Also, the cost of installing a solar project is not fixed, as it depends on the size of the project.
However, the cost of installing a solar energy project has continued to reduce overtime.