Photovoltaic Cells - The Power Under The Sun

Introduction to Photovoltaic Cells
Materials Used for the Construction of Photovoltaic Cells
How Much Sunlight is needed?
Where Photovoltaic Systems are Used?
Using Photovoltaic to Power Homes and Businesses

Introduction to Photovoltaic Cells

Photovoltaic cells, more commonly known as solar cells, are found in applications such as calculator and satellites. First used almost exclusively in space, photovoltaic cells are used in more common applications.

In simple terms, photovoltaic cells and devices convert light energy into electrical energy. Photovoltaic cells are available in many different shapes and sizes. When individual photovoltaic cells are joined, they form photovoltaic modules.

Photovoltaic arrays are available in different shape and sizes. However, their sizes are determined by factors like the required power output and the available amount of sunlight where the photovoltaic arrays are located.

Materials Used for the Construction of Photovoltaic Cells

Special materials are used for the construction of photovoltaic cells. These materials are called semiconductors. The most commonly used semiconductor material for the construction of photovoltaic cells is silicon. Several forms of silicon are used for the construction; they are single-crystalline, multi-crystalline and amorphous. Other materials used for the construction of photovoltaic cells are polycrystalline thin films such as copper indium diselenide, cadmium telluride.

How Much Sunlight is needed?

A photovoltaic system will require clear access to the sun's rays for most of the day. Photovoltaic systems are unaffected by severe weather and hence climate is not a real concern. Most PV modules are mounted on an angle to capture the sun's rays, therefore, there is enough sunlight to make solar energy systems functional and effective.

Where Photovoltaic Systems are Used?

Photovoltaic systems are generating clean electricity throughout the world. Almost any power need can be met with photovoltaic systems. In isolated or remote locations, photovoltaic systems are the cheapest option for meeting the energy requirements.

Photovoltaic is ideal for water pumping in remote areas. Water can be pumped into a storage tank during daytime and water can then be distributed by gravity whenever it is needed. In some parts of the developing world, the water supplies of an entire village are powered by photovoltaic. Other uses of photovoltaic include remote monitoring, refrigeration, and energy for small commercial ventures.

Photovoltaic is also proving to be a dependable power source in an increasing number of applications such as providing street lighting and lighting for recreational areas, as well as providing power for highway and warning signs.

Using Photovoltaic to Power Homes and Businesses

Electrical systems such as indoor and outdoor lightings, appliances and cooling systems around homes and businesses can be powered by photovoltaic systems. It is also possible to blend photovoltaic systems into every possible structure for commercial buildings. Architects and engineers can use building-integrated photovoltaic to design buildings that are aesthetically pleasing and produces their own electricity.

Source: AZoCleantech
Last update 1st March 2008

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