The Sun is the most important celestial body in the sky that gives us the opportunity to exist, to live and to enjoy this beautiful life. Solar energy is a great source of power that can be named high-performance and efficient. It has many advantages and the majority of them is very attractive for people and cannot remain unnoticed. It is free, eco-friendly, limitless.
But how is this energy generated into electricity with the help of sun? And what steps does this process consist of until it becomes a useful power?
In general, all sources of light, including solar and light itself contains energy. Commonly, the energy becomes a heat when the light falls across any object. As an example, we may take the feeling when people are sitting outside and it is sunny there, all they feel the warmth. The situation is slightly different when it comes to inanimate objects and materials. When light falls across them, the electrical current appears that can be after successfully used to provide power.
Solar technology that was used many decades ago was a special one; it implied the use of silicon made crystals. When light struck them, the electrical current appears. It can be easily explained by physics: the electrons are moving and getting up while light falls on silicon crystals, but in other situations they are simply staying in one place, although it demands more costs and can be named difficult to grow and produce. Light energy is continuously turning into electricity.
But nowadays new materials are used. They are smaller in size and cheaper in price and are able to change their shape into flexible, thin pellicles and films. This solar technology is popular but is not can be qualified for the first place of efficiency during the process of turning light into power.
Solar energy step by step conquers the USA, but it makes up only a small part of the total generation of electricity. It is considered to be expensive and many alternatives can be chosen, although they have a lot of drawbacks and pollution is one of them. People pay for solar power more than for any other current of electricity.
Scientists from all over the world search for new materials which will be less expensive, will not demand various investments and will easily produce electricity with the help of sunlight. This gives us a hope that in the future fossil fuels will be completely replaced by new sources of energy.
The process of turning sunlight into electricity by the solar cells
The crystal made of silicon ere made of electrons and the other parts consist of atoms. The light hits, it is absorbed and some electrons move to the new energy level, it is higher and it permits electrons to move freely without any bonds. Free movement of the electron around the material provides a current.
Let’s imagine in order to make this picture more understandable. There is a shelf on the wall, and a small ball is thrown up on this shelf. To throw it means to promote a new level of energy to the electron and starting from now, it wouldn’t fall down. A mass of light energy also known under the name photon helps electron to reach the shelf and it remains there for some time and we are given the opportunity to collect the energy.
Plants and solar cells absorb light energy in different ways. Plants do this to make it possible to get fuel eventually. Artificial photosynthesis is the most active topic of discussion among numerous researchers. It will be a great advance and profit, but it still remains unknown when it will come true. If solar cells took the CO2 out of the atmosphere, we would solve a great problem of human kind, namely global warming and would deal with it directly. Current solar cells are efficient; however the percentage of light striking is different and depends. Of course, the highest level of efficiency satellites shows, their power is estimated to reach 50 percent. The power efficiency is not the only one significant measure, costs, affordability and scale of production are also taken into consideration when we speak about solar energy. The silicon technology had proved it capabilities, but a new technology should be invented, improved and innovative. Getting a lot of energy is not an easy task that is why we need to try new materials and methods if we want to reach the settled goal. Solar production throughout the world is not enough to provide the U.S and its citizens. The time for changes is now and a great number of discoveries awaits us in the future.