While the word ‘solar’ comes from the word ‘sun’, the energy part of it comes from renewable source that can never be exhausted as along as the world’s greatest powerhouse remains alive. Solar energy involves the technology of obtaining usable energy from the light of the sun. Solar energy has been used in many traditional technologies although it is very recently that we have been able to harness it to our benefit. Solar energy is currently utilized for generating thermal or heat energy and for generating electricity.
As for generating electricity, solar energy is utilized in two key methods, namely, by Photovoltaic (PV devices) popularly called ‘Solar Cells’ and Solar Power Plants that generate electricity by ‘indirect’ means. Photovoltaic or PV devices are generally used in remote village areas or isolated pockets of population that are not connected to power grids as also in smaller forms for powering pocket calculators, wrist watches and illuminated emergency road signs. But now, this alternative energy is being used in urban homes and at commercial establishments as well.
To understand how photovoltaic cells transform rays of the sun into electric current, it may be necessary to enter into the details of the process. When the photons derived from the sunlight strike a solar cell, some of it goes away, reflected by its surface but some also get absorbed within it. These absorbed protons provide energy to generate electricity. When sufficient sunlight is absorbed by the semiconductor, i.e. the silicone material, electrons from the material’s atoms get dislodged. As the especially designed frontal surface of the material is more receptive to the free electrons, they migrate to the surface.
When too many electrons, each carrying a negative charge starts traveling towards the frontal surface, the resultant imbalance of charge between the silicone’s front and rear creates a voltage potential similar to the negative and positive terminals of a battery. If at that point of time these two are connected through an external load, electricity flows through them. The PV or Photovoltaic cell therefore, is the basic building block of a PV system. Though individual cell varies in dimension from 1 cm or .5” to around 10 cm or 4”, they can at best produce only a watt or two of electricity which is much too less for any application. To get more power output, several electrically connected cells are made into packaged weather-proof modules. When several such modules are connected to form an array, the desired power output can be obtained.
This alternative energy may be what will save us in the future. The fossil fuel reserve is fact depleting and one day soon we have to depend on such sources solely. Solar power is clean too and this is great news. Solar power also saves money on electricity bills and this is why it is great for the masses. If you want to go for solar power, you need to know a few things like where you should put up the system and how to complete the wiring and the installation. You will also have to know about the sources of finding cheap batteries and parts and also the safety precautions. Get a guide that will tell you about all this.