Photovoltaics (PV) is a process in which solar radiation is converted into electricity utilizing special semiconductors. PV materials such as polycrystalline silicon, monocrystalline silicon and copper indium gallium sulfide are placed in a small solar cell. A collection of PV filled cells make up a solar panel commonly associated with the process. These terms might seem complex to many, leaving curious customers with the question, what are solar panles? With the cry for resources capable of providing renewable energy like solar panels, advances in this technology have increased exponentially in the past decade alone.
Recent reports state that solar panels account for .5% of the world’s power. That is over 67,000 megawatts, or 80 billion kilowatt hours of power generated from a renewable source. What can that much energy accomplish for the populace? That is enough power to supply energy to around 20 million residential properties annually. With PV technology available in over 100 countries, the difference in usage is enormous when compared to just a decade ago. Even the International Space Station is powered utilizing solar radiation!
There is a lot more to photovoltaics than providing residential properties with forms of renewable energy. Let’s learn a few of the other applications associated with PV arrays.
Many countries have turned to large PV power plants to provide for their energy needs. While these plants are not as common within the United States, California has a few of these technologically advanced plants that utilize the sun’s capabilities. Arizona has even joined the club with a plant in the works near Arlington, Arizona.
Many smaller devices such as parking meters, water pumps and even streetlights utilize this intriguing technology. It is a great use of resources and saves the purchaser a great deal of money. Basically, the device can be installed with little maintenance necessary because solar radiation actually keeps the power going without the need to change batteries.
One great example of a small photovoltaics system can be seen with lawn lights that brighten the path at night. A single cell collects the sunlight during the day, and then at night, the light shines bright using the stored energy from solar electric power. This is great example of how far this technology has advanced on a smaller scale.
Interestingly, PV cells do not necessarily need sunlight as a source of radiation. Artificial lights such as grow lamps can also produce the same reaction. However, these other sources are not as reliable or renewable. The sun is quite massive which makes it perfect as the necessary component associated with the PV method. In addition, a PV cell requires three attributes to operate properly: absorption of light, separation of charge carriers, and extraction of separated charge carries to a circuit.
Information abounds on the internet on how to obtain and why obtaining solar panels are so important. Everyone can benefit from the increasingly popular use of photovoltaics. When used to create a green power plant, the customers actually pay less, the planet is healthier and freedom from dependence on fossil fuels is gone. A better future starts with making smarter choices, and when it comes to selecting a viable power source, solar energy is paving the way.