Basics of Photovoltaic Technology

Whether you’re coming to TerraSol Energies for residential or commercial solar power services, you’ll be getting high-level products using the same technology. This area is known as solar photovoltaic technology, or a PA solar panel system.

You probably know that this system can save you money, and can save valuable energy for the environment. Do you know exactly how it works from a scientific standpoint, though? It’s actually probably simpler than you think. Let’s look at the roots of photovoltaic technology, plus how it’s advanced to the modern age.

The PV Effect

The entire point of solar power is to convert sunlight directly into electricity that can be used for a variety of applications. Solar cells are also called photovoltaic cells – this is a name that comes from the process of converting light (photons) to electricity (voltage), hence the initials. As such, this conversion process is called the PV effect.

The PV effect was first discovered in 1954. Scientists working at Bell Telephone discovered that silicon, an element commonly found in sand, creates an electric charge when it’s exposed to direct sunlight. Before long, solar cells were being used to power all sorts of vital areas, including space satellites.

1st and 2nd Generation Cells

Most traditional solar cells are made out of silicon. They’re usually flat-plate, and are typically the most efficient cells. Second-generation cells are made from either amorphous silicon or non-silicon materials like cadmium telluride, and they’re called thin-film solar cells for this reason. They use very thin layers of semiconductor materials, and are very flexible – they can double as rooftop shingles and tiles, or glazing for skylights.

Newer Solar Cells

Newer solar cells, or third-generation cells, are being made from several new non-silicon materials. These include solar inks and printing press technologies, solar dyes and conductive plastics. In some cases, they use plastic lenses or mirrors to focus sunlight onto a very small piece of high-efficiency PV material. These cases are generally limited to the sunniest parts of the country due to cost concerns.

Interested in learning more about how solar power works, or want to find out about how our company can help you streamline your energy concerns? Speak to the experts at TerraSol Energies today.