How is solar power produced?

How is solar power produced? The photons radiated from the sun to the earth must be collected, transformed to a usable format and then supplied to an electronic device or electric grid to generate solar energy. Photovoltaic cell arrays are usually used to collect and transform energy from the sun into electricity. An inverter will be used to convert electricity from the photovoltaic array to a format which can be used to power most equipments and ensure a sustained voltage level. Lastly, power can be delivered for immediate use to the electric grid or directly to a home, business or other location. In addition, some systems can move the range of cells so that they continue to remain in the absolute best position to obtain solar energy.

The two main types of solar energy technology.

Photovoltaic solar energy

A photovoltaic system features solar panels to contain photons of sunlight. Each of these solar panels have many solar cells composed of different material layers. An anti – reflective surface coating enables the cell to capture the maximum possible light. Below is a semiconductor nestled between a negative conductor upon the top and a positive conductor on the bottom. Then once the photons are captured by the solar cell, the outer electrons of the atoms within the semiconductor are released. The positive and negative conductors create a pathway for the electrons and generate an electrical current. This electrical current will be sent to cables capturing electricity from the DC. These wires eventually lead to a solar inverter that converts it into the AC electricity that is used in the household. The more solar cells you build the more power is generated. They can be placed on roofs, fully integrated into building designs and vehicles or installed also by thousands throughout fields to create solar power plants on a large scale. Solar photovoltaics use sun-tracking mirror fields called heliostats to concentrate sunlight on highly efficient photovoltaic cells located inside a mast or tower receiver.

The costs of PV have declined significantly, as the manufacturing industry has increased production and the technology with new materials has improved progressively. Installation costs have also fallen with more trained and competent installers. The United States is ahead of other countries with stronger national policies to switch energy use from fossil fuels to solar energy. The United States is also the fourth biggest market for PV installations behind Germany, Japan, and Spain.

Solar thermal energy

Generating systems for solar thermal power collect and concentrate sunlight to create the high temperature heat required to produce electricity. All solar thermal energy systems have two main key components for solar energy collectors: reflectors (mirrors) that capture and concentrate the sunlight on a receiver. A heat transfer fluid is heated and circulated in the receiver in most types of systems and is utilised to produce steam. The steam is transformed into mechanical energy in a turbine that enables a generator to generate electricity. Solar thermal power systems have monitoring systems to keep the sun all day long focused on the receiver as the sun changes its position in the sky.

Solar thermal power systems can also have a component of the thermal energy storage system which enables the solar collector system to heat an energy storage system during day and heat from the storage system will be used to generate electricity in the evening or during cloudy weather. Solar thermal power plants can also be hybrid systems using other fuels (normally natural gas) to augment solar energy during reduced solar radiation periods.