All life on earth is supported by the sun. It is the basic resource not only for photovoltaics (PV), but all solar energy systems. It works like this: at its core the sun fuses hydrogen into helium, radiates energy outward to the surface of the sun — or photosphere — and out into space in the form of heat and light. We call this solar radiation. Only about half of this solar radiation makes it to the Earth's surface. The rest is either absorbed or reflected by clouds and the atmosphere. Still, we receive enough power from the sun to meet the power demands of all mankind — millions of times over.
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Photovoltaic solar cells enable tapping some of this energy.
Photovoltaic Solar Cells
Photovoltaic cells are the basic building blocks of a PV system. Since a single cell does not supply enough electricity on its own, these cells must work together. First, cells are connected electrically in series and parallel circuits to produce higher voltages, then sealed in a protective laminate. These grouped cells are called modules. Modules are then assembled as a pre-wired unit referred to as a panel. It is the grouping, or array of, solar panels that posses the ability to convert solar energy into a usable amount of direct current (DC) electricity.
Solar energy access technology keeps developing.
Real world example
Improvements are being discovered by people from all walks of life — and all ages. Take William Yuan, for instance. Yuan is a twelve-year-old boy from Beaverton, Oregon, USA who began studying three-dimensional (3D) solar cells in his spare time. 3D solar cells are engineered to be free-standing, collecting light in three dimensions. Building upon research by Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, and a PSU nanotechnology lab, Yuan happened upon a solar cell that can harness both visible and ultraviolet light. His project "A Highly-Efficient 3-Dimensional Nanotube Solar Cell for Visible and UV Light" may be the key to manufacturing solar panels that are hundreds of times more efficient than traditional solar panels. Source: www.KATUcom.
Use by permission from: Solar Photovoltaic Installation Manual
© Copyright 2009 by David Brueggemann. All rights reserved.
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