How Does Solar Energy Work? The How And Why Of This Techonolgy!

To answer the question how does solar energy work, we will describe the process of how sunlight is converted into electricity to use for residential solar power and a variety of other uses, and also what the two types of solar energy are.

The definition of solar energy is the radiant energy emitted by the Sun or Energy derived from the Sun's radiation.

There are two types of solar energy. Passive and acitve.

Passive solar energy has been used througout history and for thousands of years through utilization of the suns rays to heat dwellings, water and other spaces. Passive solar energy has been used in architecture by positioning windows to allow the greatest amount of sunlight to enter the building or home to help heat a space.

In acitve solar energy, sunlight is converted into electricity through the use of a solar cells, also known as photovoltaic cells. The definition of photovoltaic means the capacity to produce a voltage when exposed to light, or more simply electricity from light.

Solar Cell- Courtesy Of EERE

So how does solar energy work?

The photovoltaic effect with the process of a solar cell converting sunlight into electricity. When sunlight shines on a solar cell it is either reflected, absorbed or passes right through. Only the absorbed light can generate electricity.

The absorbed light is passed on to the electons in the atoms in the solar cell, which are located in semiconductor materials. When these electrons are charged they escape from their postions in the atom and cause an electrical current.

These cells are made of layers of semiconductor materials that are touching one another. One has a positive charge and the other a negative charge.

The negative layer has a lot of electrons, while the postive layer has a lot of holes. The sandwiching of these two layers causes an electic field.

With the combination of a flow of electrons and holes, the two semiconductor layers act like a battery and create an electric charge when they meet. This is called the Positive/negative junction.

This electric field causes the electrons to move to the negative surface where they are ready for the electical circuit, while the holes move the other way toward the positive surface where they wait for incoming electrons.

When the two layers are connected to an external load, the electrons flow through the circuit creating electricity.

A single solar cell alone will produce about 1-2 watts of power. So in order to generate more power a number of solar cells are connected together to make a solar panel. Also known as a photovoltaic panel.

To find out more information on how do solar panels work click here. We hope this gives you a better understanding to the question of, how does solar energy work.

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