Photovoltaic is a process of converting light energy into electricity using solar cells as semiconductors. The silicon photovoltaic cell was first developed by Ohl in 1941. The photovoltaic effect was first observed by Becquerel in 1839. The effect occurs in semiconductors, exceeding the gap between two energy bands, i.e. valence band and conduction band. Silicon consists of four electrons which travel from the valence band to the conduction band with a transition time of 1.12 eV (electron volts) for direct generation of electricity from sunlight. However, the ideal transition time should be between 1.1 and 1.7 eV depending upon the size of the band gap. Though subject to improvement, the current efficiency of solar cells is around 16 to 18 percent. The four main elements of a photovoltaic solar energy system are solar module, charge controller, battery bank and inverter.
Photovoltaic technologies are categorized into three generations depending upon their commercial usage. The first generation photovoltaic system is fully commercial made up of crystalline silicon and is available in both simple and multi-layered. The second generation is based on a thin film photovoltaic technology and is grouped into three main sub-categories, i.e. amorphous and micro amorphous silicon; cadmium telluride; copper indium selenide (CIS) and copper indium gallium dieseline (CIGS). Lastly, there is organic photovoltaics as well but they haven’t been widely marketed yet since it’s a new development.
There’s a diversity in usage of photovoltaic energy across multiple industries. Some of the routine based uses are listed below.
Photovoltaic panels are used to lighten the parking spaces, signage, and other outdoor areas. These photovoltaic panels are usually mounted on the pole with a rechargeable battery to power any electrical equipment.
Building integrated photovoltaic systems ( BIPV )
A set of photovoltaic technologies placed on the external covering of the buildings. Architecturally, integrated in a way that protects the house from excessive heat and promotes electricity generation simultaneously.
Photovoltaic panels are used to provide electricity in remote areas for the operation of equipment such as communication radios, radio communication devices, telemetry stations, public telephones, PLCs and video cameras at a reliable and low maintenance cost.
The process of desalination requires batteries charged using photovoltaic panels.
Satellites and Weather monitoring
The photovoltaic panel used in satellites is composed of solar cells located on the outer parts of satellites that can be attached to the satellite body or faced directly towards the Sun. They are also a source of power to all measuring equipment, weather sensors, processing, and communication.
From many advantages of using solar photovoltaics, below are the most prominent ones;
Abundant & Clean Energy
It’s an open source of energy because of the availability of direct sunlight that does not create any sort of rivalry between two parties to extract raw materials such as fossil fuels for energy consumption. The use of renewable energy resource makes the world more peaceful and clean without the urge to cause deforestation or create landfills for fossil fuel extraction.
Low Operation & Maintenance Cost
Several technological improvements are brought into the variants of the product that makes it efficient at low cost. Keeping the installation cost aside as it’s a single cost to be borne by the user, the return on investment is higher with little or no maintenance cost and an average lifespan between 30 – 40 years. Additionally, they stand to perform well in adverse weather conditions.
Eco-friendly & Highly Available
Photovoltaic cells are usually high in demand these days due to its wide applicability across multiple industries. The supply of photovoltaic cells is high enough to meet its demand in the marketplace. Hence, due to its high production by the big giant, China makes it cheaper and easily available across the globe.
WHY USING PHOTOVOLTAIC PANELS IS IMPORTANT?
The key reason why one should choose photovoltaic panels is to promote clean energy production at low operating costs with zero harmful emissions that could lead to earth’s environmental degradation. Hence, promote an unlimited source of renewable energy by converting heat into electricity using photovoltaic panels.