- This exciting solution converts energy from the sun, both light and unseen radiation, into electricity. Photovoltaic power is gaining popularity worldwide for a number of reasons:
- Using photovoltaic technology to generate electricity is a totally 'green' process. There is no hazardous waste. No coal or gas or oil is burned, no smoke is generated. No tankers full of fuel need to traverse the ocean.
- Photovoltaic energy generation is the world's fastest growing energy industry. New jobs are created daily, helping to strengthen economies and foster energy independence.
- Photovoltaic energy can be stored for future use.
- Photovoltaic systems are reliable, have long lives, and have low maintenance requirements.
- The main source of power, the Sun, is free and accessible to all.
A solar photovoltaic panel is made up of one or more solar cells, or photovoltaic cells. The cells are created using the semiconductor materials, usually a form of silicon. A thin slice of semiconductor material is treated to form an electric field, with a positive and a negative side.
When solar energy contacts the cell, electrons are freed from the atoms in the semiconductor material. When conductors are attached to both the positive and negative sides of the cell, the freed atoms generate an electric current, DC, which can then be used immediately or stored in a battery. A inverter can be used to transform the current to AC power.
Both solar photovoltaic panels and photovoltaic cells are widely available today. Applications include providing power to 'off grid' rural locations, for boats, electric cars, and remote sensing systems.
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