It’s no news that we are slowly destroying the world we live in. Pollution, deforestation, burning of fossil fuels, and other human activities have triggered climate change. Generating electricity by burning fossils is a primary reason for global warming.
With the abundant solar energy we’re getting from the sun, it’s surprising that less of a quarter of our electricity comes from the sun. About a quarter of our electricity comes from wind, solar, and other renewable resources. But what exactly are they made of? Find out here.
Solar energy is the energy gotten from the sun. Solar energy is the cleanest and most renewable energy on earth. This energy from the sun is capable of powering everything on earth. Solar technologies are actively involved in harnessing this energy from the sun and using it for the good of humanity.
One may convert solar power into electrical or thermal energy. It is almost impossible to talk about solar energy converted to electrical energy without mentioning solar panels.
A solar panel is an assembly of photovoltaic cells. The photovoltaic cells are mounted in a framework for installation. A solar panel is also called a photovoltaic module, a solar cell panel, or a solar electric panel. A collection of solar panels is called an array. Arrays of a photovoltaic system supply electricity generated from solar power to electrical equipment.
The type of solar panel you install determines the cost and its efficiency. With this stated, there are three types of solar panels.
1. Monocrystalline Solar Panels. They are solar panels consisting of monocrystalline solar cells. Monocrystalline solar panels are the oldest and most developed type of solar panels. This type of solar panel is made from about forty monocrystalline solar cells. These solar cells are made from a cylindrical silicon ingot. The ingot is sliced thinly into silicon wafers. The wafers are made into cells which are subsequently assembled and mounted on a framework to form a solar panel.
Monocrystalline solar panels have the highest efficiency compared to other solar panels. They appear black because of the way light interacts with the silicon layer. The cells are shaped like squares with their corners removed, so there are spaces between cells.
2. Polycrystalline Solar Panels. They are also called multicrystalline solar panels. Like monocrystalline solar panels, they are also made of silicon. But where the molten silicon forms a solid crystal shell called the ingot, this doesn’t happen in the manufacturing process of
Polycrystalline solar panels. The crystal is allowed to fragment and cool.
The fragmented silicon is sliced thinly into wafers, and the wafers are made into cells. These polycrystalline solar cells are assembled to form a polycrystalline solar panel. They are square-like and look like a mosaic. The panels have a blue color because of how light interacts with the crystals.
3. Thin-Film Solar Panels. These panels are a new development in the solar industry. They are not always made from silicon. Other materials like cadmium telluride and Copper Indium Gallium Selenide are also used. The silicon used is amorphous silicon.
The panels are made by placing the primary material between thin sheets of glass conductive material. A layer of glass is added for protection. Thin-film solar panels have a thin appearance. They may be black or blue, depending on the primary material they are made from.
Crystalline solar panels are made of solar cells. The solar cells or photovoltaic cells are made up of two types of silicon semiconductors; positive (p-type) and negative (n-type) silicon layers. The n-type silicon layer has extra electrons which move around freely, while the p-type doesn’t. Instead, it has electron vacancies called holes.
When the n-type and p-type silicon layers are brought together, electrons move from the n-type to the p-type, forming a unique junction. This junction produces electrical potential in the material. When sunlight hits the junction, the photons can displace the electrons and leave a hole behind.
More electrons fill the new holes, and fee electrons assemble at the pole. The collected electrons at the pole flow through a conductor, generating an electric current.
There’s also the inverter. The energy from the sun is converted into direct current (DC) electricity. However, most homes and businesses use alternating current (AC) electricity. The inverter rapidly switches the direction of the DC input, back and forth. Consequently, the DC input becomes AC output.
The mounting systems are essential when installing solar panels. The solar panel mounting system is also called solar module racking. These mounts are used to keep solar panels fixed securely to the ground or on roofs. There are two types of mounting systems: the fixed mount and the track mount.
The fixed mount keeps the panels fixed in place. On the other hand, track mounts follow the
direction of the sunlight and tilt or rotate for maximum exposure to the light.
Ground-based mounting systems are usually large, and they include:
- Foundation mounts such as concrete slabs.
- Pole mounts, which are either embedded in the concrete or driven directly into the ground.
- Ballasted footing mounts, which do not require penetration but use the weight of concrete or steel bases to hold the mounts down.
You may ask yourself if solar panels are worth it. Yes, they are. Solar energy is the most renewable energy source. Installing solar panels eliminates or drastically reduces energy bills. Solar panels also do not require much maintenance to last for decades.
Solar power systems get clean, pure, renewable energy from the sun. The total greenhouse gas emission involved in solar energy is much lower than fossil fuels’ overall greenhouse gas emission. Solar energy leaves a low carbon footprint, clean, reliable energy that can support your electricity even when the centralized grid fails, and savings for any budget.Installing solar panels helps the environment and helps you.