Solar Evolution Essay

1310 Words 5 Pages
Evolution of the Panels

Solar power is not a new concept—two thousands years ago our ancestors would concentrate the sun’s heat with glass or mirrors to light fires or heat water. It wasn’t until 1839 that Edmond Becquerel, a French scientist, discovered what is known as the “photovoltaic (PV) effect,” (US DOE EERE). While experimenting with an electrolytic cell that consisted of two metal electrodes placed in an electricity-conducting solution, he noticed that electricity-generation increased when exposed to light. During the 19th and 20th centuries, global researchers experimented with selenium solar cells and cadmium sulfide (CdS), but a silicon PV cell that could convert sunlight into enough power to run electrical equipment was only
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Traditional solar cells are flat-plate, made from silicon, and usually the most efficient and commonly used (NREL). For a typical home system, around 40 cells are grouped together to form a PV panel or a module and typically 10 to 20 modules are wired together on a south-facing rooftop in an arrangement known as a solar array (NREL). This array connects to an inverter, which converts the power into a form that is supplied by utilities. New innovations in the technology are second- and third-generation solar cells, which are made from scarce or organic materials that are often more expensive. Second-generation cells, or thin-film solar cells, are made from amorphous silicon or nonsilicon materials, such as cadmium telluride, and are quite flexible (NREL). Third-generation cells are made from a variety of materials, such as small molecules, polymers, conductive plastics or perovskite. Recently, research in the third-generation cells has significant increased, due to their great potential and limited stability ( Solar panel manufacturers now are key to the solar power industry and are investing in research and development to create the most cost-effective and efficient

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