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Solar electricity can be produced in two ways:

1) Using Photovoltaic (PV devices) or solar cells: Photovoltaic or solar cells absorbs sunlight and converts it directly into electricity. Small individual PV cells are grouped to form solar panels / solar modules.
A PV cell has 2 or more very thin layers of semi-conducting material.

Silicon is most widely used semiconductor material. When the silicon is exposed to sun light, electrical charges are generated. This charge is conducted away by metal contacts in the form of direct current (DC).

A solar inverter is then used to convert this DC electricity to AC electricity.

The electricity generated by solar cells by using solar energy can also be stored for later use. This is done by running the current into a bank of batteries. However, this method of storing solar electricity generated by array of solar cells is not very much practical or economical. It is an expensive process.

2) Concentrating Solar Power Plants: These solar power plants generate electricity by using the heat from solar thermal collectors. This heat is then used to heat a fluid to produce steam that is used to power a generator that produces electricity.
 

How Solar Panels Work to Generate Electricity:

Explanation of how solar panels work to generate electricity.

Many people just wonder how small solar electric systems, also known as photovoltaic (PV) systems, work to convert sunlight into electricity. Let me explain it here:

With the advancement to technology, several systems and technologies are available today to convert solar energy into electrical energy or electricity.

The most common and widely used is photovoltaic (PV). Most of the solar electronic panels used by homeowners' is photovoltaic (PV). Photovoltaic or PV cells convert solar energy (energy from the sun) directly into electricity without using any generator or any other additional machinery.

In the 1950s, scientists carried on experiments and developed the process of capturing solar energy through photovoltaic cells. By late 1960s, this new technology was used in the U.S. space program to supply power to electronic equipment of satellites orbiting the earth.
 

 

Solar Electricity

Video -  how solar panels use Solar Power to generate solar energy

Solar Electricity


Many new styles of PV cells are being developed today but mainly two distinct kinds of PV cells are appropriate for home use:

Crystalline silicon solar cells - These Solar Cells are manufactured from crystalline silicon. Many of you must be knowing that silicon is the second most common material on Earth and is abundantly found in sand. To make solar cells out of silicon, manufactured silicon crystals are sliced to about 300 micrometers thick and coated to work as a semiconductor to capture the sun's energy (solar energy).

We all know that an atom is made up of electron, proton and neutron; electrons are negatively charged while protons are positively charged and neutrons are neutrally charged or have no charge. As solar radiation or sunshine falls on a PV cell, the solar energy is absorbed by electrons allowing them free movement. This flow or movement of electrons is electricity. Silicon PV cells are most commonly used PV cell in the market. These PV cells are used for their stability and reliability.

"Thin-film" or polycrystalline PV cells - "Thin-film" PV cells use amorphous silicon or an alternative to silicon as a semiconductor. These solar cells are relatively flexible and can be directly installed with building materials. They work great even during clouds when there is low solar light. Here, the disadvantage is that thin-film PV Cells comparatively generate less electricity than crystalline silicon cells.

Output of electricity from solar cells (PV Cells) - Whatever type of solar cells (PV cells) you use, each small sized ( upto 3square inches in area) will generate few watts of electricity. This small electricity generated by each solar cell has to be collected to get power that can be useful. To achieve this purpose, each solar cell is linked together to create modules called "solar panels." These solar panels are again linked together to for an array. An array can have several hundred modules. The number of solar panel in an array depends on how much electricity one is trying to generate. The more power or electricity is needed, the more solar panels will be there in an array.

Converting DC to AC Electricity - The PV cells generate DC or direct current. This DC electricity has to be converted to AC or alternating current so that it can be used in a home for lighting or running appliances. An inverter is used to convert DC to AC. This is same as converting DC from a battery to AC.

Storing Electricity Generated by Solar cells - The electricity generated by solar cells by using solar energy has to be stored so that it can be used later as an when required. This is done by running the current into a bank of batteries. However, this method of storing electricity generated by array of solar cells is not very much practical or economical. It is an expensive process.


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