There’s a future out there where your electric bill will only be a few bucks a month. For now, solar energy is still not so commonplace. This does not mean that solar power hasn’t made progress through the years. Solar energy has evolved to the point that we see them used in calculators, watches, and even roofs. Using something as plentiful and simple as sunlight to make energy might’ve seemed strange years ago but now it is a power source that is here to stay.
How Does Solar Power Work?
Getting energy from the sun seems very simple but it is a little bit more complicated than it looks. Sunlight is made up of light particles called photons. These free roaming photons can be harnessed through the following process.
First, we need a medium for this process to take place in. That’s where solar panels come into play. Solar panels are made up of many photovoltaic cells. These cells are essentially two pieces of conductive material, silicon, in this case, sandwiched together. They are called “photovoltaic” cells because they are used to convert sunlight into energy.
The purpose of the photovoltaic cells is to produce an electric field. To do this, the silicon wafers must have a positively and a negatively charged silicon sheet. This will create the electric field needed in between both silicon pieces. To create this field, one silicon sheet is infused with phosphorous (the negative charge) and the other is infused with boron (the positive charge). When exposed to sunlight, the photons will knock electrons out of that field, pushing the electrons into other components that will convert them into useable energy.
The energy generated by these solar panels can power anything from a pocket calculator to an office building. One obstacle to having solar power more available as a cheaper energy source is the cost of producing solar panels. Steadily, the cost is decreasing and more things than ever are powered fully or in part using solar energy. There are already people who have solar panels covering their roofs and generating enough energy to help keep the electricity and heating bills very low. Solar energy can also be unreliable because of the simple fact that it is not sunny all day long, every day, or everywhere. The technology for solar panels has to improve enough to maximize converting light into energy and storing that energy for a rainy day.
Right now these obstacles are raining on the growth of solar technology, but soon it will have its day in the sun.