Photovoltaics – Definition, Glossary, Details – Solar Mango

Photovoltaics (or PV in short) is the term used to denote the conversion of light into electricity. The term literally means light-electricity. Some materials exhibit this property wherein they absorb the photons in light and release electrons which when captured, producing electricity.

The PV effect was first observed in 1839 by Edmund Becquerel. It’s a less known fact that Albert Einstein won a Nobel Prize for his study on photoelectric effect.

Bell Labs was the first to make a silicon based solar cell. A photovoltaic cell is what is essentially called a solar cell. This happened in 1954.During thisperiod, the technology was too expensive to gain any acceptance. The energy crisis in the 1970s propelled the need to look at alternative energy solutions. Advancements in PV technology fuelled its affordability.

When light from the sun strikes the solar cells, electrons are knocked loose from the silicon atoms. If electrical conductors are attached to the negative and positive sides of the solar cell, an electrical circuit is formed which helps to tap electricity. This solar generated electricity can be used to power loads.

Interestingly, each solar cell is able to produce only about 0.5 V of electricity.This wouldn’t be quite useful to suffice our energy needs. Hence many cells are connected together to form a solar panel which gives a higher level of voltage.

Photovoltaic modules and arrays produce direct-current (DC) electricity. They can be connected in both series and parallel electrical arrangements to produce any required voltage and current combination. This DC electricity produced need to be converted to AC electricity in order to power AC loads. So inverters are an essential component of PV systems.