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What does a solar panel look like?

08/14/2021

Everyone knows what a photovoltaic panel is and what it is used for, but few could tell how it works and what materials it is composed of.

Photovoltaic energy is undoubtedly one of the most promising alternative energy sources.

It is generated by solar panels, tools that convert the sun’s rays into energy useful to humans, and are used today in a variety of fields of use: from installation on the roofs of houses to provide heat and electricity, to use on spacecraft, to which they can provide energy even for decades.

But what does a photovoltaic panel look like? And how does it actually work?

There are two main types of panels:

  1. photovoltaic panels, also called “solar” panels, are used to generate electricity from sunlight;
  2. solar thermal panels, which instead use sunlight to heat water.

Today we will discuss the first type, PV.

They are composed of multiple photovoltaic cells, small electronic devices arranged side by side and connected together to form the heart of solar power generation systems.

Each is composed of several elements: a conductive metal base and protective glass enclose two semiconductor plates, P-type and N-type, and several conductive metal contacts.

The two sheets are composed more of silicon, a material that can act as a conductor or an insulator depending on the situation.

Además, boron is used to create the P-type plate: by mixing it with silicon, unstable gaps are created carrying positive charges; the N-type plate, por otra parte, is created by mixing silicon and phosphorus. This time, sin embargo, one electron remains free carrying negative charges.

When overlapping the two types of silicon, some electrons come together forming an electric field.

Sunlight disrupts the system’s bonds: by connecting wires to the cell’s contacts, excess electrons and gaps tend to come together, thus creating an electric current.

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