PV panels: how they use solar energy

These days, many people have become aware of the depletion of the vast energy resources of our planet. Alternative energy sources such as solar energy, wind power, geo thermal energy and tidal power are gaining much popularity because of this reason. Solar energy is one of the most popular and widely studied alternative means of electricity generation for our planet. Not only can the rays of the sun be harnessed for heating and lighting purposes, but solar energy is also being used by many countries today to produce electricity for homes, for industrial processes and even for space cooling. Solar energy can provide us with electricity without depleting the earth of its natural resources, and thus reduce the carbon footprint being left by man on earth.

How can we harness solar energy?

Solar energy can be harnessed by means of solar panels or photovoltaic panels. These are panels, consisting of solar cells that convert solar energy into electricity. Photovoltaic or solar panels work on the principle of the photodiode. Thus the solar energy from the sun can be used by the photovoltaic panels to generate current electricity, either directly or even to recharge batteries for many appliances. Solar energy can be stored, converted into other energy forms, radiated and even reflected. Photovoltaic panels that utilize solar energy to generate electricity are becoming increasingly popular these days and are being integrated into many appliances. They are the most reliable means of generating electricity out of all the alternative energy sources. Not only can they provide you with cheaper electricity, practically free of cost, but they are also emission free, therefore environmentally friendly.

What are the PV panels made up of?

Photo voltaic panels are made up of solar or photo voltaic cells. These cells consist of photo voltaic material that is able to make current electricity out of solar radiation from the sun. This material is made of copper or silicone based alloys and usually not very expensive. PV panels need to be installed only once, and most manufacturers provide a 5-10 year warranty on the panels.

Advantage of PV panels over other means of alternative energy generation:

The biggest advantage of solar panels is that you don’t require specialist knowledge in order to maintain them. They are also soundless, and silently absorb the sun’s rays to create electricity all day unlike heavy mechanical generators that add to sound pollution. Unlike wind mills, wind turbines and power plants that harness wind, wave and tidal energy, PV panels can be made of any size and can power any appliance that runs on batteries or current electricity. They can be small enough to power watch batteries and large enough to power huge industries and factories build on acres of land. They can even provide enough power to power entire parks, streets and villages. Tiny street lights can be fitted with PV panels and can use the sun’s rays to provide electricity to the area during the night time. PV panels can also store the electricity created out of solar energy and don’t always need continuous exposure to the sun. On cloudy days and even during the night, PV panels can actually power lights and small appliances for several hours. They recharge themselves upon exposure to the sun, so they don’t need any manual manipulation at all.

The use of photovoltaic panels:

Photovoltaic panels are now adapted to a variety of devices that can use solar energy to create electricity. Here are some purposes for which photovoltaic panels and solar energy can be used:

Industrial purposes:

For space cooling, heating, water purification or distillation, sterilization and even providing indoor lighting, photovoltaic panels are used in industries on a huge scale and help conserve the natural resources of the earth and reduce pollution. Solar energy is used by the photovoltaic panels on an industrial scale, to generate current electricity and this can aid in reducing pollution in our atmosphere a great deal. Industries are the biggest contributors to global warming by releasing carbon emissions in the atmosphere. Solar energy is an emission free means of generating electricity for industries.

Street lighting and park lighting:

In the western world, PV panels are being fitted on a wide scale in parks and street lights that are self powering and self maintaining. These PV panels absorb the energy from the sun during the day time, and provide lighting to the area during the night time. These “green” lights are the best way of reducing the load of energy consumption and utilization by the urban population. Photovoltaic power plants are also under construction on huge scales that collect solar energy, and convert it into electrical energy that can be used for our consumption.

Photo voltaic panels integrated into homes:

These days, houses and buildings are built with solar panels integrated into the building architecture itself. These special buildings have PV panels installed on the roof and even on windows that can directly absorb solar energy and convert it into usable electrical energy. Many homes consist of solar fans, solar lights and even solar powered windows that all have tiny built in PV panels, and such homes are called “solar powered homes”. These are the latest design of environmentally friendly homes.