Solar panels actually comprise of many, smaller units called photovoltaic cells. Photovoltaic simply means they convert sunlight into electricity. Many cells linked together make up a solar panel. A solar panel works by allowing photons, or particles of light, to knock electrons free from atoms, generating a flow of electricity.
How Solar Panels Work
Modern solar cells are made of semiconductor materials like silicon or cadmium telluride. Light falling on this material energizes its electrons, giving them enough energy to create a flow of electrical current.
A typical solar panel combines dozens of solar cells in an electrical circuit to produce a usable voltage, which can provide power right away or be stored in batteries for later use. Some solar power installations can feed power directly into the electricity grid.
Since the amount of electric power produced by solar panels depends on the intensity of light, they don’t work well on cloudy days and not at all at night. A common solution is to back up solar power installations with batteries that store extra power until it is needed at a later time.
HPQs PUREVAP™ QRR process will lead to the production of higher grade solar silicon metal. It will help in the manufacture of solar cells that will perform better and produce more electricity than conventional panels.
The Different Solar Industry Markets
There are three main types of markets in the solar industry with diverse size businesses serving them: the residential solar market, commercial solar market, and the utility solar market.
Residential solar is generally less than 10 kW total capacity and is installed on the roof or on the ground. These systems provide ample supply during summer months for most households.
Electricity generated by the solar panels is used to replace or offset other supply sources, which saves the homeowner on their electrical bill. Its a low carbon source of electricity, especially when compared to fossil fuel sources. Solar energy producers thus not only protect the environment, they save resources, including not only fuels but also water, from being consumed in other applications. Also, solar installations have minimal maintenance costs.
Commercial solar is generally from 10 kW to 1000 kW, although sometimes even larger systems that are roof-mounted, or that involve net metering, are still classified as commercial.
Commercial facilities can be a great way to use unused space on the roof of a shopping mall, farm building, factory, or storage facility. It can help supplement the site’s power demand, and be set up to provide backup power in case of grid failure. The panels also act to block the sun from beating down on the roof, thus helping to lower cooling needs for the building.
Utility solar represents an extraordinary opportunity to deploy solar energy. Utility-scale solar is sometimes defined by a minimum size (which may be from 1,000 kW to 50,000 kW), and are invariably usually ground mounted.
Utility-scale facilities are owned and operated by the utility itself and can help them meet mandatory GHG reduction targets. Solar helps utilities to virtually and instantaneous dispatch energy, which is highly effective in regulating voltages and transmission, and in enabling more integration of variable renewable power.