How does Solar Energy work?
Solar panels work by using photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight directly into electricity. Certain materials naturally release electrons when they are exposed to light, and these electrons can then be harnessed to produce an electric current.
Photovoltaic cells, also called solar cells, are made from the same semi-conductor materials used in computer chips. All solar cells have at least two layers with a positive and negative charge. The electric field across the junction between the two layers causes electricity to flow when the semi-conductor absorbs photons of light and releases electrons.
Made with silicon
Electrical contacts attached to the front and back of the cell enable it to become part of an electrical circuit. Over 98% of solar cells are made with silicon, an element most commonly found in sand (the second most abundant material in the earth’s crust). These cells are quite brittle, so several cells are wired together and enclosed in a rugged, protective casing called a module or panel. A group of these modules is called an array.
Visit the European Photovoltaic Industry Association website for more information on how solar power works.