How is Solar Energy Converted into Electricity?

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solar energy converted into electricity
23May

In many ways, solar energy is the cleanest, most reliable source of renewable energy available, and it can be used to power your home or business in several ways. With solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, the sun’s rays are converted into electricity by stimulating electrons in silicon cells with photons of light from the sun. You can then use this electricity to supply your home or business with renewable energy.

What is Solar Energy?

Solar energy is energy derived from the sun. The sun produces solar energy in the form of heat and light. The sun is one of the most readily available and renewable sources of energy on earth. Because it is abundant, free, and doesn’t belong to anyone, it’s one of the most important non-conventional energy sources.

Throughout ancient history, people have used solar energy to heat wood with heat produced by beams of light concentrated by magnifying glasses. In general, solar energy can be converted into heat energy or electricity.

How Solar Energy Is Converted to Electricity?

The first step in converting solar energy to electricity is to install photovoltaic (PV) cells or solar cells. Photovoltaic means both light and  electricity. The cells capture the sun’s energy and convert it  into electricity. Solar cells make use of materials that have a photovoltaic effect. Thus, when solar rays strike a Photovoltaic cell, the photons in the light trigger electrons inside the cell to start flowing, resulting in electricity.

Here is a stepwise approach towards the way  how solar panels make electricity:

STEP 1: The Sunlight Activates The Panels

Every panel is composed of silicon cells, a frame made of metal, a casing of glass, and special wiring.  In order to achieve maximum effect, the panels are arranged in an “array” (an ordered series) on roofs or large outdoor spaces.  At daylight, photovoltaic cells, often referred to as solar cells, absorb sunlight.  

STEP 2: Cells Generate Electricity

Solar cells contain a thin semiconductor wafer made of two layers of silicon. An electric field is formed when one layer is positively charged and the other negatively charged. Solar photovoltaic cells are powered by sunlight, which energizes the cells and causes electrons to be released from atoms inside the semiconductors. Due to the electric field surrounding the wafer, loose electrons are set in motion, which causes an electrical current to flow. 

STEP 3: The Electrical Energy Is Converted

Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity efficiently, but the electricity generated is direct current electricity, which is not the type of electricity that power most homes, which is alternating current electricity. With an inverter device, DC electricity can be easily changed into AC electricity. Modern solar systems use either one inverter for the entire system or individual microinverters attached behind the panels.

STEP 4: Electricity Converted From the Grid Powers Your Home

A solar panel converts solar energy from DC to AC electricity, which is then distributed throughout the house to power your appliances. This system works in exactly the same way as the electricity generated by your electric utility company, so nothing in your home needs to be changed. As long as you still have a connection to your traditional power company, you have access to additional power from the grid to fill in any solar shortages.

STEP 5: A Net Meter Measures Usage

Solar shingles may not be able to capture enough sunlight to provide you with energy on cloudy and overnight days; conversely, in the middle of the day when no one is home, they may collect excess energy. It is for this reason that a meter is used to measure electricity moving in both directions – to and from your home. If you return any surplus power to the grid, your utility company will often give credit for it. This is known as net metering.

Conclusion

Solar energy is one of the most sustainable and cleanest renewable sources of energy out of all those available, but it has some environmental consequences. Solar energy is produced by photovoltaic cells. The manufacturing of photovoltaic cells to produce that energy, however, requires silicon and generates some waste.

The improper handling of these materials may result in hazardous exposure to humans and the environment. Solar power plants may require a large piece of land, which could negatively impact existing ecosystems. Solar panels convert solar energy into electricity without polluting the air. It is abundant and does not contribute to global warming.

 

Posted in: Solar Energy

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