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How Solar Power is generated

The technology used to harness solar energy has developed over the last few years making it more affordable and accessible to the general population. Solar power provides a cleaner, green source of energy while minimising our reliance on non-renewable sources of power. Solar power is generated by using the solar radiation from the Sun. Solar radiation refers to light – also known as electromagnetic radiation – that is emitted by the sun. While every location on Earth receives some sunlight over a year, the amount of solar radiation that reaches any one spot on the Earth’s surface varies. Solar technologies like solar panels that have been developed over the years capture this radiation and turn it into useful forms of energy which can be used to power your homes and provide a freedom from relying on the grid for all your energy needs.

It is interesting to note that the amount of sunlight that strikes the earth’s surface in an hour and a half is enough to handle the entire world’s energy consumption for a full year. This fact makes it pretty clear how abundant and reliable solar power can be and switching to this energy source is a rather smart move. Solar panels convert sunlight into electrical energy either through photovoltaic (PV) panels or through mirrors that concentrate solar radiation. This energy can be used to generate electricity or when there is an excess of power generated, it can be stored in solar batteries for later use.

Photovoltaic technology is utilized in solar panels to generate electricity. When a solar panel receives sunlight, the energy from the sunlight in the form of solar radiation is absorbed by the PV cells in the solar panel. This energy then creates electrical charges that move in response to an internal electrical field in the cell, causing electricity to flow, thus allowing your home or business to get powered by this energy source created by your very own solar panels.

The conversion efficiency of a photovoltaic (PV) cell, or solar cell, is the percentage of the solar energy shining on a PV device that is converted into usable electricity. Improving this conversion efficiency is a key goal of research and helps make PV technologies cost-competitive with conventional sources of energy like coal, natural gas, etc.

Factors affecting solar production

All of the sunlight that reaches a PV cell is not able to get converted into electricity. In fact, most of it is lost. Multiple factors in solar cell design of solar panels influence the solar cell’s ability to convert the sunlight it receives. If the following factors are kept in mind while designing solar panels, higher efficiencies can then be achieved.

  • The sunlight that reaches the earth’s surface has wavelengths from ultraviolet, through the visible range, to infrared. When light strikes the surface of a solar cell on a solar panel, some photons are reflected, while others pass right through. Some of the absorbed photons have their energy turned into heat. The remainder have the right amount of energy to separate electrons from their atomic bonds to produce charge carriers and electric current.
  • Solar cells on a solar panel have proven to work best at lower temperatures. Higher temperatures cause the semiconductor properties to shift, resulting in a slight increase in current, but a much larger decrease in voltage. Extreme increases in temperature can also damage the cell and other module materials, leading to shorter operating lifetimes. Since much of the sunlight shining on cells becomes heat, proper thermal management improves both efficiency and lifetime.
  • A solar cell’s efficiency can be increased by minimizing the amount of light reflected away from the cell’s surface. For example, untreated silicon reflects more than 30% of incident light. Anti-reflection coatings and textured surfaces help decrease reflection. A high-efficiency cell will appear dark blue or black. Thus the darker coloured solar panels perform much better.

The performance of a photovoltaic (PV) devices to predict the power the solar cell in a solar panel will produce has been extensively researched and analysed. Electrical power is the product of current and voltage. Current-voltage relationships measure the electrical characteristics of PV devices. If a certain “load” resistance is connected to the two terminals of a solar cell or module, the current and voltage being produced will adjust according to Ohm’s law (the current through a conductor between two points is directly proportional to the potential difference across the two points). Higher Efficiencies in solar panels is obtained by exposing the solar cell to a constant, standard level of light while maintaining a constant cell temperature, and measuring the current and voltage that are produced for different load resistances.

Solar technology has developed significantly over the years and has become more accessible to people across Australia. Contact Austra Solar today for a free quote and start taking advantage of generating your own energy source by installing a solar power system!