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Solar Panels

Solar Panel Layers

Solar Panel Layers

I’m pretty sure everyone knows what solar panels are by now. They’re panels used to convert solar energy/radiation into electrical energy for use. There are many different types of solar panels; I will be explaining the most commonly used one: the crystalline silicon solar panels.

First, a solar panel contains many layers. The outer layers are made from glass or plastic to protect the other layers inside of it. It may contain UV enhancement film to increase the UV radiation intensities from the sun (for more energy). Within the glass, there are conductive layer(s)  and photovoltaic cells. Usually, the photovoltaic cells are made from silicon. The silicon contains two layers made from two other elements; one layer with too many electrons and one layer that has too little electrons.

As said before, solar panels contain a bunch of semiconductors, called photovoltaic cells or solar cells, which convert sunlight to electricity. When light particles (called photons) hit the surface of the panels, the layer with too many electrons loses some of its electrons. The loose electrons are then released as an electric current which is sent through the layer with too little electrons to an external load to store the energy. The electrons then return to the layer with too many electrons (as it’s now missing electrons) and then the process continues as the external load continues to store energy.

On average, crystalline silicon solar panels are only capable of converting 12-20% of the solar radiation to electrical energy (the first solar panels were only capable of converting 3% of solar radiation). The process of converting electrical energy is too slow and expensive, which is possibly the reason in which why solar panels are used less compared to other forms of energy generation such as Pico-Hydro and wind-turbine generators.