Changes In Energy When Current Is Flows Through A Circuit Solar Panels Provide a Green Energy Solution Using High Tech Computer Manufacturing Processes

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Solar Panels Provide a Green Energy Solution Using High Tech Computer Manufacturing Processes

Solar cell technology has been around for over 60 years. Solar modules, commonly called photovoltaic panels, have been used to generate electricity from light since the invention of the silicon-based semiconductor. No longer a laboratory curiosity, solar cells are an industry in their own right and are as common in generating energy as conventional methods of generating electricity, such as steam turbine generators and nuclear power plants. Many methods of collecting solar energy are used and available today. We will explore the more common devices for generating electricity with solar energy: photovoltaic cells and PV modules.

How does a PV module generate electricity from light?

Solar cell

Solar cells are made of materials that are electrically activated when light hits their surface. This unit, a solar cell, works without moving parts and never wears out! Add lots of cells together and you get a solar array or photovoltaic module. The more cells, the more power that can be generated from the modules.

Cell layers

The top layer of a solar cell or wafer contains a layer of silicon that has free electrons, which are negatively charged particles. The boron-enhanced bottom layer contains spaces or holes that allow electrons to move into the open spaces. The manufacturing process creates this electronic imbalance between the two layers in this semiconductor material. This imbalance is responsible for the operation of the solar cell, which creates an electric current and voltage.

The sun hits the solar cell

Photons from the sun hit the outside of the photovoltaic cell. This activity excites free electrons in both silicon layers. Some of the electrons in the bottom layer travel to the silicon layer on top of the cell. A flow of electrons moves through the metal contacts located on the front and back of the solar cell, creating electricity. Electrons flow in a closed loop or electrical circuit. Combining multiple solar cells has an additional effect on voltage and current depending on how they are “stringed” together. Think of each cell as a battery. Stringing the cells in series (negative to positive) will add voltage and keep the amperage the same as a single cell. If you string the cells in parallel, the voltage will remain the same as a single cell, but the amperage of the cells will be added.

Solar powered

The solar panels generate an electric current that is transferred to the inverter. An inverter changes direct current into alternating current, which corresponds to the electricity provided by your power company. Appliances and electrical equipment operate on alternating current. In the United States, power is produced at 60 hertz, while in Europe 50 hertz is the norm.

Solar electricity is fed into the wiring of a house, company or power plant and into the electrical network of the electrical company. An independently controlled power system can also function as its own utility. This “off-grid” system requires batteries to store energy when the solar panels produce more energy than the load needs, and discharges itself when the solar modules cannot capture enough energy from the sun to balance the electrical loads of the home or business.

Converting silicon wafers into photovoltaic cells

The computer chip industry has made solar cells cheap to manufacture. Advances in efficiency, processing, and quality have made the photovoltaic cell manufacturing process state-of-the-art and scalable. While the process is mature for silicon wafer production, the techniques are time-consuming and important to achieve the desired performance results. A silicon wafer starts out as an ingot of silicon material and is then sawn into the characteristic round slices you see on a solar module.

Etching machineWafer

Part of the solar cell process, which requires a clean room, involves chemical and heat treatment that transforms grayish silicon wafers into vibrant, blue-colored cells. Chemical etching removes a fine layer of silicon. Beneath this layer, the crystal structure reveals a pyramid-shaped surface that absorbs more light.

Dispersion

The silicon wafers are placed in ovens where phosphorus is sprayed onto the surface of the wafers. This step deposits a molecular-sized deposit as the surface of the wafers is exposed to phosphorus at high temperature. This step gives the surface a negative potential electrical charge. This layer and the boron-doped layer below the surface create the positive-negative or P/N junction that forms the basis of the photovoltaic cell. This is also how a semiconductor chip is made.

Dyeing and printing

The cells are placed in vacuum chambers where silicon nitride is deposited on the side of the wafer that will be exposed to sunlight. The silicon nitride coating is designed to reduce light reflection. This process gives the cell a dark blue color. The cell is ready to produce electricity, but it still needs a means to collect and deliver the energy to the load. Metal strips are printed on both sides of the cell so that electrical charge collection and wire landing surfaces can be added to the wafer. Once this step is complete, the cell is ready to produce energy.

Attaching cells to solar panels

The cells are arranged to create the voltage and amperage profile of the completed solar panel. If you look at the different brands of solar panels on the market, you will notice that the arrangement of cells dictates both the characteristics of domestic and commercial solar panels. Consequently, the physical size of the PV module frame is determined by the arrangement of the solar cells.

Soldering

The cells are soldered together in series arrays, which involves electrically connecting the wafers together into a single module. Several arrays are concatenated into a rectangular array of cells. Each cell matrix is ​​laminated to the glass using a robust adhesive system that ensures the finished panel will survive normal environmental stresses.

Framing

The outer frame of the solar module provides protection against weather and shock loads and also includes an electrical connection, which can be a junction box or a standard electrical cable connection. These are commonly used in other electrical devices.

Location, location, location

Installing an array of solar modules requires the ability to collect as much sunlight as possible during seasonal fluctuations in the sun’s intensity.

Rooftop systems provide a ready platform as the surface is often angled towards the sun and the surface is unusable for most other devices.

Floor systems are good options if roofs are not available or are too small in area. The modules are mounted on racks that are attached to the floor and are accessible for servicing or adding additional solar modules.

Canopy systems perform well in pitched roof applications such as parking lots.

Utility-scale systems are typically large power generation units sized for utility-grade use and typically not limited to area.

Tracking systems optimize power output by moving solar modules according to the path of the sun.

Summary

Solar modules are the union of solar cells and technology that makes computer chips cheaper than a decade ago. The inherent reliability of solar modules used for home solar panels is due to the lack of moving parts and the highly reliable parts and processes that make a solar module a reality. There is virtually no limit to the types of solar electric systems that can be designed and very few restrictions on location as long as sunlight is abundant.

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