Solar PV

Solar Cells

Some materials are sensitive to the sun's radiant or light energy and react in such a way that we can harness this "reaction" to produce electricity.

The sun's light energy can be converted directly into electricity in a single process using Photovoltaic (PV) cells, otherwise known as solar cells. A PV cell is a thin plate of light sensitive material made primarily of silicon, the second most abundant element in the earth 's crust, and the same semiconductor material used for computers.

When the silicon is combined with one or more other materials, it exhibits unique electrical properties in the presence of sunlight. Electrons are excited by the light and move through the silicon. This is known as the photovoltaic effect and results in direct current (DC) electricity.

Many PV cells are linked together to create a standard PV module, which in turn are linked together into a PV array. PV modules have no moving parts, are virtually maintenance-free although they should be kept clean and clear of shading, and have a working life of 20 -30 years.

The PV array produces direct current (DC) electricity. An "inverter" is used to convert the DC to alternating current (AC), so the power is the same as normal grid power and can be used in household appliances. The inverter is a box of electronics, similar to a computer.

The Photovoltaic (PV) cell was discovered in the early 1950's by researchers examining the sensitivity of a silicon wafer to sunlight. By the late 1950s, PV's were used to power U.S. space satellites and this success generated commercial applications for PV technology. The simplest PV systems power small calculators and wrist watches used everyday, while more complicated systems provide electricity to pump water, power communications equipment, and even provide electricity to our homes.

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