Jan 04, 2012— read in full
- Photovoltaic cells produce electricity directly from sunlight.
- They produce sustainable energy which is clean and reliable, without consuming any fossil fuels.
- PV cell technology was originally designed to provide electricity to satellites, but now has a huge range of uses.
- Solar cells, or photovoltaic (PV) cells, are one of the three ways of generating electricity from the sun.
How does it work?
Sunlight is made up of particles of solar energy. When these particles strike a PV cell, they can be reflected, pass through, or be absorbed. Only the particles that are absorbed can help generate electricity.
When the solar particles hit the PV cell, the energy that these solar particles have causes the electrons to move out of alignment, which allows electricity to flow.
A solar panel is made up of a number of solar cells. Individually, these solar cells vary in size from about 1cm to about 10cm across. However solar cells on their own do not produce enough power for most applications. This is why we group them together to make a solar panel.
Solar panels in the UK
Solar panels are used widely in the UK to help power both domestic and corporate buildings. For example, the BP offices in Surrey have solar panels on each of the buildings.
However, as the UK is not reliably sunny, these only provide electricity on sunny days. Also, as solar panels in their current design are not very efficient, the system only has the potential to provide up to 15% of the power needed by the BP offices.