Updated: Oct 8, 2022
Solar energy is the future! It’s been around since 1883. We've come a long way from the 1% efficient solar power cells back then to the 20% to 30% efficient solar cells available now. It was a remarkable journey resulting in more than 10% of the world using solar power, according to the Global Electricity Review 2022.
How does solar power work, and how will it shape the world in the future? What else don't I know about solar power?
Let's dive right in and answer these questions.
How Does Solar Power Work?
Solar power cells work on the principle of the photovoltaic effect. This effect is when electrons, the harmful particles in cells, get energized by photons, the particles of light.
Solar panels are made up of smaller units called solar cells. Solar cells comprise a layer of semiconductors, usually silicon, sandwiched between two layers of true conductors.
All the electrons are busy in bonds; since silicone can make four bonds with itself. So, the electrons cannot move. We all know that electricity is formed when electrons flow. So how does that happen?
The silicone in the solar cell exists in two types. There's P-type silicon and N-type silicon. N-type silicon has extra electrons, while P-type silicon has extra spaces of electrons. The place where these layers join is called a PN junction.
When light or photons hit the silicon electrons, they charge them through the photovoltaic effect. They get so energized that they break the bond with their adjacent silicon atom and float around, leaving a space where they were.
The electrons naturally accumulate and float in the N-type silicon while the spaces move to the P-type silicon. That way, the P and N-type silicone become positively and negatively charged.
The mobile electrons are collected and then flow through an external circuit until they come back to the back of the solar cell. As they flow through the circuit, they do electrical work such as charging a battery or powering a bulb.
Nothing is used or depleted from the solar cell. The electrons are the only parts that work and return to the cell. That is why solar panels can last for decades.
Why Don’t We Use It More?
Now that you understand how solar panels work, you must wonder why they aren't used more. Why does the world still rely on fossil fuels for electricity?
A big reason is the lobbying of oil companies and the resistance against changing an established system.
Another reason is that solar power is not as reliable. There are days without any sunlight or places in the world that get very little sunlight, if ever.
Despite that, people are choosing to upgrade their residential systems to solar whenever possible. More than four out of ten homeowners in the US are considering Solar Panels for their homes, according to a survey by the PEW Research Centre.
Six Mind-Blowing Facts About Solar Power
Here are some exciting things we'd like to share about solar panels. It's a fun opportunity to test your knowledge. How many of these did you know before?
Solar Increases Your Home Value
The prospect of a ready-made solar-saving solution makes your home more expensive. That's something to consider if you ever intend to sell in the future.
Solar panels are a great selling point to attract green-conscious buyers. You can target a specific niche in the home market and earn more, especially if you are the only solar-powered home in the area.
You might be able to get all your money back while selling the house, so the solar installation almost paid for itself.
Solar Works When the Sun Doesn’t Shine Too
Of course, there's less production on cloudier days, but when the sun shines, it charges up the solar cells that release energy over an extended period. So, your solar cells still produce energy at night or when it rains. The cloudier the area, the fewer savings. However, the savings are enormous in states like Texas, Nevada, and California, where the sun dominates.
Time of Use Billing
If you are being billed based on the time of your energy use, then you can have some of your solar panels face the west side of your roof so that you can increase production when the sun is setting, and electricity from the grid is more expensive. That way, you can save on any electricity you get from the grid during peak hours.
Solar Power in an Hour
The Earth receives more solar power in a single hour than the world would use in an entire year. The current solar panels only convert 20% of that into energy. Most advancements in solar power are aimed toward increasing solar cell efficiency.
Solar is Cheaper
The price difference would be huge if you had a solar energy system installed in your home ten years ago versus now. Solar panels and their installation has gotten more accessible over the years. That is because technology is becoming easier to produce.
World’s Biggest Solar Farm
Solar panels are popular for individual homeowners, but some countries embrace renewable energy more than others. The world's largest solar farm, Bhadla Solar Park in India, generates 2,245 MW. With a total capacity of 2.25 GW while spanning across 14,000 acres. In comparison, the largest solar farm in America, Solar Star, spans over 3,200 acres and produces about 579 MW. It used to be the world's biggest back in 2015.
Humans have been finding one way or another to utilize the abundant energy from the sun in one way or another from the seventh century BC. Solar energy is the modern form of an ancient practice. They harness the properties of semiconductors that are also abundant on this Earth. In one way, it's nature's gift.
Solar panels are a cost-effective energy solution. Are you one of the growing numbers of homeowners considering solar for your home? Book a consultation today and figure out a guaranteed way to start saving money today!
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