By Martin Wolny
The solar revolution of the last two decades has made solar energy an increasingly powerful force in the energy arena. Solar panels (arrays of photvoltaic cells) convert sunlight to electricity. Solar panels are typically constructed with crystalline silicon, which is used in other industries (such as the microprocessor manufacturing), and the more expensive gallium arsenate, which is exclusively produced for use in photovoltaic (solar) cells. Other, more efficient solar panels are assembled by depositing amorphous silicon alloy in a continuous roll-to-roll process. The solar cells created within this process are called Amorphous Silicon Solar Cells, or A-si. Solar Panels constructed using amorphous silicon technology are more durable, efficient, and thinner than their crystalline counterparts.
Panels make use of renewable energy from the Sun, and are a clean and environmentally sound means of collecting solar energy. In direct sunlight on the surface of the equator, solar panels get the best: a maximally efficient photovoltaic cell about 1/5m in diameter creates current of approximately 2 amps at 2 volts. However, due to the Earth’s atmospheric interference, solar panels will never perform as well as solar panels exposed directly to the Sun’s rays. Years of overheating and physical wear can, after all, reduce the operation efficiency of the photovoltaic unit. Solar cells become less efficient over time, and excess energy is released into its thermally conductive substrate as infrared heat.
Solar energy originates in the depths of our Sun. The Sun endures a continuous stream of thermonuclear explosions as hydrogen atoms are fused into helium atoms. We encounter the resultant energy as radiation that strikes the surface of the Earth. Solar panels convert this solar radiation into useful electrical energy and store them in batteries for our use. Enough solar radiation strikes the Earth every day to meet Earth’s energy needs for an entire year. Solar panels help us harvest this energy and convert it to usable energy to meet the everyday needs of modern life.
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