There has been a tremendous growth in the renewable energy markets across the world with solar energy constituting a major part of it. An increasing trend has been observed in people preferring clean and affordable energy generated from renewable sources over the conventional non renewable sources. The main reason for this switch is the constantly increasing electricity prices, but environmental awareness by various government agencies and NGOs has also been crucial. It is due to this reason that Google has equipped its headquarters with solar panels and plans to make the establishment completely self sufficient in the coming years. A range of solar appliances are in vogue today, some popular appliances being solar water heaters, solar cookers and the most commonly spotted – solar road lamps. But what powers these devices is the solar panel constituting of numerous little Solar Cells made up of silicon. Let’s get in detail about this solar cell which is going to create a revolution in our energy system in coming times.
What are Solar Cells?
A solar cell or a photovoltaic cell is an electrical device, which converts the sun’s light energy directly into electrical energy by the photovoltaic effect. It is a type of photoelectric cell. When it is exposed to light, it generates an electric current without taking the help of any external electrical source. The conclusion – without getting into the technical details is that the light rays falling on the solar panel is captured by the silicon made solar cells, which then convert it into electrical energy through some chemical and physical processes.
Applications of Solar Cells
Solar cells have a wide range of application in general as well as research and technical purposes.
- Electronic watches, calculators and other low power consuming equipments derive their power from solar cells.
- Energy generated from solar cells is used to provide electricity across many parts of the world, especially rural areas.
- Many lighthouses and buoys are powered by solar panels to act as ocean navigation pointers.
- Radio transceivers on mountain tops and telephone boxes are solar-cell driven.
- On research level, scientific research stations, weather stations, seismic recording equipments work on photovoltaic energy.
- Space vehicles like satellites and telescopes such as Hubble are powered by thousands of solar-cell panels.
Working of Solar Cells
Large numbers of photovolataic cells are used to make modules to generate electricity from solar energy. Multiple groups of integrated assemblies oriented in one plane constitute one module.
Cost of Solar Cells
If you are planning to install solar cells to your home, you might be wondering about costs. The initial setup for the same is a little costly; however, given that it’s a onetime affair, you will recover the cost once the panel is functional. The cost of a solar cell is given per unit peak of electrical power. The solar panel must not only be chosen on price alone. You should also check for the area to install, government subsidies, performance, warranty and recovery costs of power produced.
Lifespan and Longevity of Solar Cells
Most solar cells that are available for commercial usage last for at least twenty years. The panels have an extended life, lasting from 30-35 years.
Types of Solar Panels
Based on efficiency, there are different types of solar cell panels:
- Mono crystalline silicon
- Polycrystalline silicon
- Thin film
- Building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV)
Important Technical Know-How Before You Buy a Solar Appliance:
1. Materials Used
While purchasing for the solar panels, quality must be thoroughly examined. The higher the silicon, the more will be the efficiency.
2. Tolerance and Resistance
This is the parameter that checks the withstanding of the solar panel. A positive tolerance means that a panel might produce more than stated under standard testing conditions.
3. Coefficient of Temperature
This is important to determine the impact of heat on panel. The lower is the coefficient, the better is the performance.
4. Efficiency of Conversion
The efficiency determines how much power is to be generated.