The most used renewable energy resource is probably the solar energy. Nowadays, more and more people become aware of the benefits of this type of energy and install one or more solar panels on their own green roof.
But, in order for us to properly install a solar array (in the correct place and position), we have to know a little bit more about how a photovoltaic cell works.
As you already know, solar energy is produced by the nucleus of the sun as a result of nuclear fusion between the atoms. The sun is composed mainly from hydrogen and in certain conditions it melts to produce helium. This process releases huge amounts of energy, springing from the heart of the stars and traveling through space for billions of years.
Lately (as in the recent 20 years), the man has wanted to find and build a large number of ways to harness this energy and convert it into something useful for the everyday life in order to live eco friendly in their own home. For this reason, people have optimized permanently the technology that extracts energy from the sun and turns it into electricity and hot water.
The photovoltaic cell
If we want to transform solar energy into power, we need a photovoltaic cell: an electronic device that can transform light into electricity through a process called the photoelectric effect.
The light comes to Earth in the form of photons and hits the surface of the cell, usually made of silicon, and emits electrons that – once captured by the material – produce electricity. Currently, specialists are experimenting with double-sided PV cells which can have a better efficiency with the help of reflecting surfaces.
In the following image, it is presented a detailed diagram of the entire process happening on the roof of your green home:
- First, the photons coming from the sun strike the semiconductor material of the solar cell;
- Energy from the photons allows electrons to pass down through the middle layer of the cell and the energy is increasing;
- Electrons travel along the circuit and this creates electrical current which cand be then used in our home.
Hybrid solar panels
There are also hybrid solar panels that produce electricity and hot water at the same time. The system is a combination between a photovoltaic cell and a solar thermal collector. The PV cell produces the electricity, while the solar collector captures the remaining energy and removes waste heat from the system.
The advantages of the photovoltaic panels are very clear: they produce a renewable and clean form of energy and encourage the self-sufficiency of many households that cand go “off the grid” and supply for their own energetic needs.
So, now that you basically know how a solar panel works, you can go ahead and buy at least one for your green home. Keep in mind that you can now even find self-installed solar arrays on the market with customer support and good prices!