Science of Solar: How Does it Work?
The sun is the ultimate source of energy. The earth receives the sun's energy in the form of sunlight. When sunlight hits a surface, it can be reflected or absorbed. The heat that is absorbed can be used to generate electricity.
The sun's energy is converted into electricity by photovoltaic cells, which are semiconductors that generate an electric current when they are exposed to sunlight. Photovoltaic cells are grouped together in panels and can be mounted on the roof of a house or on the ground. Solar panels can also be combined with other technologies like wind turbines, batteries, and hydroelectric power plants to produce renewable energy for the grid. Solar panels use an array of photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight into electricity.
Each cell consists of a semiconductor material, typically silicon, which generates electrons when exposed to light. The current generated by each cell is used to power other electronic devices like computers and phones located near the panel. Photovoltaic cells are grouped together in solar panels and interconnected to form an electrical circuit. At the center of the solar panel is a small black box called the inverter, which converts the direct current coming from a photovoltaic cell into alternating current for use in homes and buildings.
The inverter is surrounded by a large metal frame called an enclosure that helps protect it from water and allows heat to escape. There are openings in this frame on the front and rear of the enclosure. The power cable enters on the rear of each inverter, just under where it would be plugged into a wall outlet. The hole near the left side is for connection to an outdoor switch, and the hole near the right side is for connection to an outdoor light. Suspended from this metal frame is a thin, flexible metal sheet (a metal canopy) that covers the hole in the panel. The metal canopy is suspended by cords with hooks on each end, so it can be raised or lowered to change the height of this light.
While some say the future of solar energy will be based on the demand for renewable energy sources and how much we rely on oil and coal for our energy needs, the future of solar is very bright, the US just solidified the next 10 years for increased tax incentives, which will lead to more homes than ever going solar and provide jobs to thousands of people.