The future of energy is right above your head: the sun.
Oil and coal are costly, requiring labor-intensive extraction. When you burn these natural resources, they put excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and pollute your skies. Solar has no harmful byproducts, and provides clean energy when you simply leave it there!
Solar panel technology is impressive, but how does it work? Today, you’ll learn how humans have figured out how to harness this clean, green energy and put it to use in building our society.
Solar Panel Technology
Solar panel science is the process of extracting energy directly from sunlight. Solar panels are comprised of hundreds of small photovoltaic cells.
What does photovoltaic mean? It’s a Greek-derived word meaning “light chemical reaction.” Photovoltaic cells are causing a reaction between atoms in order to produce electricity.
How Do Photovoltaic Cells Produce Electricity?
Photovoltaics are pretty simple: you take two semiconductive slices of material, such as silicon, and make them into a sandwich with a space between them.
You coat these semiconductors in chemicals, which causes one of the semiconductors to be positive (meaning it has few electrons in its atoms) and the other to be negative (which means these atoms are chock-full of electrons).
When you expose these cells to the sun, you allow photons through the semiconductors. When these photons hit the negative side of the cell, they knock those electrons free. Those electrons are then pushed into the space between them.
Once you break these electrons free, you can collect them in metal conductors. From there they go to a wire, and provide electricity like any other cable!
How Much Power Can Solar Panels Harvest?
The best solar panels are on average 20% efficient. What does this mean? It means that of all the sunlight that the solar panel is absorbing, only 20% of it is eventually converted into energy.
While that’s pretty impressive for a home solar panel you can leave on your roof, that efficiency is improving. Scientists are hard at work getting the efficiency of solar panel technology as high as they possibly can. Perhaps one day we will have solar panels with 100% efficiency, meaning every photon they absorb is being converted into energy.
Fortunately, solar panel science isn’t meant to be out of reach for the average person. Companies like Blue Raven Solar aim to democratize the process and make it available to all. Installing home solar panels needn’t be a costly, difficult process.
Bringing Solar to Your Home
Now that you’ve learned how this seemingly magical energy is harvested, it may be time for you to consider going solar. Solar panels let you harvest all that sunlight beating down on your rooftop, and convert it into something you can use. Solar users often experience a big reduction in the cost of their energy bills.
Solar is here, and it’s the energy of the future. It’s time for you to join the revolution and become a solar user today!