Solar energy functions by trapping energy from the sun and converting it into electricity that you can use at home or at work.
The sun is a nuclear reactor that works naturally. It emits tiny energy packets known as photons that reach the earth in around 8.5 minutes, after covering 93 million miles. In theory, every hour there are sufficient photons colliding with the earth to produce enough solar energy to meet the world’s energy needs for a whole year.
Today, photovoltaic power represents 0.5% of US energy consumption. However solar technology is advancing while solar installation costs are plummeting, so our capacity to utilize the sun’s abundant energy is improving.
A report prepared by the International Energy Agency in 2017 indicates that solar has turned to be fastest-growing energy source in the world. This is the first time that the growth of solar has outstripped that of other energy sources. In years to come, all of us will in some way benefit from electricity generated by solar systems.
How solar panels operate
As photons come into contact with a solar cell, electrons from their atoms are knocked loose. An electrical circuit is created when conductors are connected to the positive and negative parts of a cell. Electricity is generated when electrons flow across such a circuit. A solar panel consists of several cells and several panels (or modules) that may be hooked up together to make a solar array. Deploying more panels results in generation of more energy.
What materials are used to make solar panels?
PV (photovoltaic ) solar panels are comprised of multiple solar cells. Just like semiconductors, silicon is used to make the solar cells. They are designed with a negative and positive layer, which jointly produce an electric field much like what happens in a battery.
How is electricity produced by solar panels?
Photovoltaic panels produce DC (direct current) electricity, where electrons flow around a circuit in one direction.
For alternating current (AC) electricity, electrons are pulled and pushed, reversing direction every now and then-reminiscent of car engine cylinder.AC electricity is created by a generator when a coiled wire is rotated alongside a magnet. Various energy sources can swing the handle of the generator including diesel or gas fuel, nuclear, hydroelectricity, wind, coal and solar.
AC electricity was selected for the electricity grid in the United States, mainly because it is less costly to transfer over long distances. But solar panels generate DC electricity. We use inverters to get DC electrical energy into the AC grid.
What is the function of a solar inverter?
Solar inverters get DC electricity generated by the solar array and utilize it to produce AC electricity. An inverter acts like the brain of the system. Besides converting DC to AC power, they also offer ground fault protection, indicate important system statistics such as the current and voltage on DC and AC circuits, maximum power point monitoring and energy production.
Central inverters have been predominant in the solar industry from the outset. The development of micro-inverters is one of the most significant technological innovations in the PV industry. A micro-inverter increases the efficiency of every single solar panel, unlike central inverters that optimize for the whole system. This allows each solar panel to operate at its full potential. In a central inverter system, a problem in one solar panel (for instance when it gets dirty or it is located in the shade can degrade the performance of the whole solar array. Using micro-inverters like the ones installed on the Equinox home solar by SunPower eliminates this problem. This is because the rest of the solar array will still operate efficiently even when one solar panel has a problem.
How a solar panel system functions
At the start, sunlight strikes a solar panel placed on the roof. The panels transform the energy to direct current that then moves to an inverter. The inverter changes the electricity from direct current to alternating current which can then be utilized to power your house. It is wonderfully clean and simple whilst increasingly becoming cheaper and more efficient.
But what happens you cannot use the electricity generated by your solar panels on a sunny day because you not at home? And what occurs during the night when your solar equipment is not producing power in real time? Relax, because you still get to benefit through an arrangement known as net metering.
A standard PV system that is connected to the grid often generates excess energy during peak daylight hours, which is then put back into the grid so it can be used elsewhere. The client receives credit for any excess energy that is generated. They can then use this credit to get energy from the grid during cloudy days or at night. A net meter measures the energy transmitted against the energy got from the grid.