Solar cells or photovoltaic cells are mechanisms that convert solar energy into electrical energy through the photoelectric or photovoltaic effect. A collection of photovoltaic solar cells connected together as a circuit makes up a solar panel.
To understand how solar cells work, it's important to know that the photoelectric effect is the process by which photons of light are absorbed and converted into electrons. When exposed to solar radiation, a photovoltaic cell gets all excited and creates electricity. A single solar cell doesn’t generate much energy, so several cells are grouped together to form a photovoltaic module (or solar panel), which allows for the production of a considerable amount of electricity.
Photovoltaic solar cells are composed of semiconductors such as silicon, the most common base material in the manufacture of solar panels. These semiconductors are responsible for interacting with the sun's photons to generate the electrical current that we’ll use in our domestic and industrial consumption. Silicon is the second most abundant element on earth after oxygen and is the main component of sand. To be used as key element of semiconductors in solar cells, silicon has to go through several stages of an industrial process.
Photovoltaic cells are the basis of solar panel installations, which, when placed on roofs or other surfaces, are transformed into "small power plants" producing renewable energy. On top of being beneficial for the planet and helping us all move towards a sustainable energy model, they also help you save on your electricity bill. Check it out!
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