The use of solar energy especially in homes has been garnering positive recognition from a lot of environmentalists. The most apparent result of using solar energy would be the impact it can make to our environment.
In order to directly convert sunlight into electricity, solar cells should be used. Solar cell, or technically termed as photovoltaic cell, is an electrical device capable of converting direct sunlight into electricity through photovoltaic effect. Solar cells can be classified as a photoelectric cell, which means that once it is exposed to light, it can effectively produce electric current without the use of external voltage.
Process involved in Solar Energy
Solar cells are made of special materials called semiconductors. Manufacturer used different kind of semiconductors, but silicon is by far the best semiconductor for solar cells. These semiconductors are responsible for absorbing the light that hits the cell. These absorbed lights possess energy, and once it is detected by the electrons, it can cause them to flow freely.
The flow of the electrons is considered the current. The solar cell has one or more electric field that will lead this current to go on one direction. Essentially, the current made by the electrons, as well as the cell’s voltage from the electric field will determine the power that the solar cell can yield. That is basically how solar cells work in order to produce electricity from the sunlight.
Types of Solar Cells
Currently there are three solar cell types available on the market, the amorphous, monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar cells.
Amorphous or thin-film solar cells are ideally used for smaller solar panels, which require only minimal electricity. Calculators and garden lamps are some of the things where the use of amorphous solar cell can be applied. Solar cells made out of amorphous are known to produce low cost when it comes to the power generated, however, it relatively produces low power density making it inconvenient for larger applications.
On the other hand, crystalline solar cells are arranged into series to produce solar panels. To effectively produce 20 volts of electricity, about 36 crystalline solar cells should be utilized since each cell can only produce an average of 0.5-0.6 Volts. There are two kinds of crystalline solar cells, the monocrystalline and the polycrystalline. Apparently, there is only a minimal difference between the two when it comes to commercial application. Crystalline solar cells are proven to last longer as compared to amorphous cells.
Current Events and Applications of Solar Cell
Solar panels are basically used to save home energy. Currently, there are few that run their households with the use of solar energy. Solar panels are capable of powering and recharging some portable devices commonly used at homes. With the use of solar energy, the amount of electricity that we normally use in our household would dramatically decrease.
Most solar panels for commercial use have a lifespan of 20 years but with proper care, it can function for about 30-35 years.
Currently, China is the largest manufacturer of solar panels. In 2010, China made an amazing output of 13 GW, earning the spot of top producer of solar panels in the world. Most of the Chinese solar companies are already coordinating with government agencies in advocating solar revolution.