- the number of PV cells linked to form a solar panel (or photovoltaic module),
- the temperature, and
- the amount of solar radiation present.
If you want to learn more about the photvoltaic effect, click here and if you’re interested in reading about the advancements in photovoltaic cells, click here.
Storing Solar Power Created Through PV Cells
You may have guessed the output of solar panels could vary considerably. True. But you won’t be left sitting in the dark on cloudy days or at night because you could switch back to normal electricity or take advantage of stored solar power. On particularly sunny days when the energy generated by solar power systems exceeds your requirements, the excess can
- be used to charge a solar power battery (i.e. stored in a lead-acid battery) and used later, or
- be sold back to solar PV power companies and bought back later when you face a shortage, or
- be stored in the form of heat (also referred to as thermal storage).
Photovoltaics were first used to power spaceships in the 1960s but they are pretty common these days thanks to advancements in technology, falling prices and favourable government policies. Some areas that benefit from PV solar systems are:
- Buildings, both commercial and residential
- grid-connected power stations
- hybrid cars/vehicles
- small gadgets like solar powered calculators and watches
- water heating systems
- street lamps
- and remote roadside telephones, signboards, schools, etc.
The credit for the photovoltaic effect goes to Albert Einstein who discovered this phenomenon about a hundred years ago. Science has come a long way since then and we now see new inventions every other day. It may be helpful to know there is another type of solar power system, referred to at concentrated solar power (CSP) which is mainly used at solar power plants.
It’s amazing resourceful the Sun is to man; our own private star can singlehandedly fulfill all our energy needs for the future.
Sources: Wikipedia, NASA, NREL, Renewable Energy World, Energy Education (Image A)