How Solar PV Works?

How Solar PV Works

Photovoltaic energy is the conversion of sunlight into electricity through a photovoltaic (PV) cell, commonly called a solar cell which is a non-mechanical device usually made from silicon alloys.

Sunlight is composed of photons, or particles of energy. These photons contain various amounts of energy corresponding to the different wavelengths of the solar spectrum. When photons strike a PV cell they may be absorbed, reflected, or pass right through. Absorbed photons produce energy when electrons in the cell become excited and dislodge from the atoms found in the cell's semiconductor material. As they bounce back and forth, the excited electrons create friction and therefore heat. The solar cell merely takes a percentage of these electrons and directs them to flow in a path. This flow of electrons is, by definition, electricity.

The resulting electricity produced by the PV cell is "direct current" and can be used to power "DC" off-grid appliances such as car headlights, flashlights, portable radios, etc. These off-grid appliances however are not connected to the electric power utility grid. To run most appliances found in the home, the DC power must be converted to "alternating current" or "AC", to allow connection via electric wall sockets. This is done by utilizing an inverter which transforms DC electricity into AC. The inverter's AC output powers the circuit breaker box and the common outlets in your home.

Advantages of Solar PV Energy

Solar PV Energy has the following advantages:

  • Fuel source is vast and clean
  • Low operating costs
  • High reliability, demonstrated life of 25+ yrs
  • Power generation at the point of use
  • Improved production efficiencies (less transmission loss)
  • Quick installation
  • Max sunlight hours correspond with peak demand/prices
  • Scalable and deployable in many different settings/configurations
  • High public acceptance
  • Excellent safety record

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