Photovoltaics, also known as PV Panels, are used to convert solar energy into direct current electricity. A photovoltaic system employs solar panels composed of a multitude of solar cells to supply usable solar power.
This form of energy has been long seen as a clean, sustainable energy technology that draws upon the planet’s most plentiful renewable resource, the sun. Direct conversion from sunlight to electricity occurs without any moving parts or environmental emissions, making it an eco-friendly alternative to common fossil fuels and natural gases.
Since the first designs of solar panels more than 50 years ago, the efficiency and price of PV Panels have greatly improved. After hydro and wind power, solar power is now the third most important renewable energy source in terms of globally installed capacity. More than 1000 countries use solar PV regularly. Large installations are often ground mounted, however, typically they are built into the roof or walls of a building for residential and commercial use.
In 2013 alone, the fast-growing capacity of worldwide installations of PV Panels increased by 38%, which is sufficient enough to supply about 80% of the electricity demand worldwide. China, followed closely by Japan and the United States, is the fastest growing market, while Germany remains the world’s largest producer, contributing almost 6% to its national electricity demand. Using PV Panels is a highly powerful step toward the future of our planet.
Photovoltaics are best known for generating electric power by using solar cells to convert energy from the sun into a flow of electrons. The photovoltaic effect refers to photons of light exciting electrons into a higher state of energy, allowing them to act as charge carriers for an electric current. The solar cells must be protected from the elements and are often packaged tightly behind a sheet of glass.
The first practical application of photovoltaics was to power orbiting satellites and other spacecraft. Today, however, the majority of photovoltaic modules are used for grid connected power generation, although many are using PV Panels to reduce their grid dependencies, in hopes of going “off-the-grid”. Electric vehicles are also well known for trying to integrate the useful system.
As technology improves, photovoltaics will be less expensive and more efficient to use on an every day basis. They are the next up-and-coming idea for the future of power and clean, green energy.
- Larry Gilland, LGA Studios