Photovoltaic solar energy is a renewable energy source that uses solar cells to convert sunlight into electricity. The technology is becoming more prevalent each year, with more people choosing to switch to renewable energy sources to help the environment. When shopping for a solar cell phone charger, for example, you’ll notice that many brands offer this option. If you’re interested in trying out solar energy but aren’t sure where to start, this article will help you understand the basics of photovoltaic technology and how it works.
How Does It Work?
Just like any other form of energy, photovoltaic solar energy has its foundations in science. When light waves travel through space and hit an object such as the earth or water, they are reflected and scattered as heat. In its most basic form, photovoltaic solar energy is nothing more than harnessing this naturally occurring process to create electricity. To this end, the technique relies on the fact that, when sunlight shines on a solar cell, it can cause electrons in the material to become unstable and jump to a different state. This reaction creates an electric current which can then be collected and converted to an electrical current using devices such as a solar cell converter or battery.
This process is dependent on photons (light particles) striking the solar cell in such a way that they can chemically interact with electrons in the material. This is why light exposure is so key in helping the process along – if the sun isn’t shining, the electricity generated will be zero. It is also worth noting that, while the photosynthetic pathway is used to generate energy in plants, this technique is completely unrelated and is used to harness energy created by the process of nature itself.
Types Of Photovoltaic Solar Energy
The two main types of photovoltaic solar energy are:
- Point-of-Use (Distributed Generation): This type of system generates electricity as close as possible to where it is being consumed. Typically, these units are used in residential settings such as apartments and villas. They come in a variety of sizes, from a few watts to tens of watts. In the case of an apartment, one of these units could provide all of the house’s electricity needs, or at least part of them. They also have the advantage of being extremely scalable – imagine a house with an outdoor pool needing to generate its own electricity. You could always install one of these units close to the water and generate enough electricity to make swimming in that pool a realistic option for the summer months.
- Solar Thermal (Central Station): This type of system uses mirrors and/or lenses to focus sunlight directly on a boiler or other heat-absorbing surface. The heat that is generated can then be used to generate electricity. This form of energy is generated on a large scale, typically by solar power stations that can harness the energy from the sun to generate as much as 10 megawatts of electricity. Its cost-effectiveness makes it popular for places with high solar radiation such as the Middle East and North Africa. It also works well in tandem with other forms of energy generation, such as wind power and water energy to create a hybrid system.
Where Can I Use It?
The most basic principle behind photovoltaic solar energy is that it can be used anywhere there is direct sunlight. This obviously includes your roof, but it can also be used near water sources such as lakes and ponds. The fact that these units are incredibly scalable and can be used almost anywhere makes them popular for both residential and commercial settings. If you’re looking for a way to reduce your carbon footprint while still getting some electricity from the sun, this is a great option to consider.
Is It Environmentally Conscious?
As noted above, one of the major motivations behind using photovoltaic solar energy is to reduce your carbon footprint. In addition to reducing your carbon footprint, these units are highly efficient in their use of energy. One study showed that photovoltaic solar energy was 7.1 times more efficient at generating electricity than traditional energy sources. This makes it great for the environment, especially if you consider that traditional methods of energy production are highly inefficient.
In addition to reducing your carbon footprint, these units are also totally environment-friendly in the sense that they don’t produce any toxins or hazardous substances during their use. This makes them ideal for places where clean air is a concern.
When Do I Use It?
This article isn’t meant to provide complete information about photovoltaic solar energy, its applications, or even its basics. Instead, the purpose is to give you enough information to understand what it is and how it works so that you can decide whether or not this is a technology you’d like to try out. This type of energy is best used when the sun is shining, so that you can generate electricity at any time. This means that its use is very dependent on the time of day and, as such, makes it unsuitable for some settings. If you’re looking for a sustainable energy option that can be used any time, this is a great choice. Remember, though, that it takes a while for these units to get up and running, so you’ll need some time to determine whether or not it’s a good fit for your situation.