Photovoltaic cells (PVs) are semiconductor devices that convert sunlight into electricity. There are a variety of materials available for PVs, including copper indium gallium diselenide, cadmium telluride, perovskites, and organic compounds. For most PV applications, cost efficiency is key. The U.S. government initially supported PV technology with money from the space program. In 1958, a silicium-based PV system powered the Vanguard satellite. The energy produced by PV systems was measured in kilowatt-hours, which is equivalent to one hundred-watt light bulb operating for ten hours.
While traditional PV solar cells are made from silicon, recent improvements in technology have improved their efficiency. A silicon cell panel's life expectancy is currently 30 years. Thin-film solar cells, on the other hand, are a rapidly growing segment of the commercial solar market. Compared to c-Si modules, thin-film PV cells are generally less efficient. Concentrating PV arrays, which are common in the desert southwest, rely on lenses and mirrors to focus concentrated solar energy. They also require tracking systems to collect sunlight and convert it to power.
PV systems can be ground-mounted or built into buildings. While ground-mounted systems require mechanical anchoring, buildings with PV systems can have them built in. The advantages of ground-mounted PV systems include reliability and low maintenance costs. They are also more reliable than grid-connected systems in bad weather. Unlike utility-owned energy, solar panels do not need to be replaced and are reliable even in bad weather. PV modules are also extremely durable, with lifespans measured in decades.
Concentrating solar cells are also possible. Concentrator PV cells use curved mirrors or lenses to focus sunlight onto tiny multi-junction solar cells. These devices can use a solar tracker or a cooling system. In December 2014, Fraunhofer ISE produced the highest-efficiency concentrator solar cell ever. Boeing Spectrolab and Sharp Corporation have also been able to achieve over forty percent efficiency with their triple-layer design.
Today, PV is responsible for much of the growth in the solar industry, and this trend is expected to continue. According to the EIA, the installed capacity of solar PV capacity worldwide increased by 40% between 2013 and 2015, accounting for over 85% of the growth. PV solar energy has become a viable source of electricity for more than a hundred countries worldwide, including the United States and China. So, while solar panels are a great alternative for many applications, solar PV is still an investment-worthy option.
Since the early 1990s, PV systems were made more affordable and grid-connected. In fact, since 2002, global PV production has increased 48 percent a year. This makes PV the fastest-growing energy technology in the world today. Moreover, the PV industry invests heavily in research and development (R&D), with primary objectives of reducing costs and increasing efficiency. The future of the solar PV industry is highly uncertain, and price is key.
PV solar energy can enable new applications in medicine and agriculture, as well as mobile devices charging. As this technology becomes more widely used, PV solar energy is on its way to becoming the next generation of clean energy. PV solar energy is a great choice for both residential and commercial applications. The benefits of solar energy are numerous. It is a cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuel energy sources. PV solar energy can power a wide variety of devices, from smartphones to large commercial buildings.
Another drawback of PV solar systems is their limited operational range. Without a battery backup, they cannot operate when a KUA power outage occurs. This safety requirement prevents PV solar systems from feeding energy into the grid, damaging line workers and motor loads. PV solar systems with a battery backup, however, can continue to operate even if disconnected from the grid. This can protect both the system and the surrounding power grid. Despite these challenges, a battery backup system may be the best option for most customers.
PV systems can vary in size and complexity. The smallest photovoltaic systems can power calculators and wristwatches. Larger photovoltaic systems can power entire buildings, including powering thousands of homes. Even large PV arrays are now being installed on rooftops. And as long as the sun is shining, photovoltaic panels are a viable and growing alternative to traditional energy sources. It is possible to build a PV array that is the size of a football field.