Renewable Source Of Solar Energy
How to get free solar power?
Renewable solar energy technologies use the energy of light from the sun. The sun provides heat and light every day while it shines on your location.
We use that free solar energy to make water hot and produce electricity. This article explains how to get free solar power from daylight.
You might argue that in the course of extracting that energy we need a process, method, system or technology.
The solar energy that can power your home, business or whatever industry you work in is free. However, electrical energy generated and used for lighting, general electrical power, environmental cooling or heating comes at a price.
What Is The Source Of Solar Electricity?
Solar panels convert the sun's light in to usable solar energy. The process of transforming photons into direct current (volts) is the photovoltaic (PV) effect. The cells that make up the solar array consist of silicon N-type and P-type semiconductor material. The photons in sunlight collide with electrons of silicon atoms. The photons’ energy impact on the silicon cells excites the electrons enough to become unattached from their atoms.
The free electrons will flow through the material to produce electricity. Currently solar panels convert most of the visible light spectrum and about half of the ultraviolet and infrared light spectrum to usable solar energy. This is how to get free solar power.
The discovery of the science linking light and electricity comes from work done before Einstein but he explained ‘photoelectric effect’.
How To Get Free Solar Power - Light Into Electricity
When a light source (that is electromagnetic radiation) illuminates a metallic surface, the surface can emit electrons. This same photoelectric effect happens within a silicon cell of a photovoltaic (PV) module.
Let me explain the photoelectric effect for a photoconductive metal separated from a collector metal. In an experiment the effect can be created using two separated plates in a vacuum chamber. Light is shone onto the photoconductive metal and electrons may be released.
Incident radiation is light shone onto a photoconductive metal surface and some light is reflected and/or some absorbed. Released electrons from the energy of absorbed light are attracted toward the collector. An ammeter wired to both the photoconductive and collector plates measures the current in the completed circuit.
The electrons will be emitted with a range of energies depending on properties of the photoconductive metal and light frequency.
The kinetic energy of the photon particle that bumps an electron free must exceed the electron’s binding energy. The electron’s binding energy is what holds the electron in the atom’s orbit. There is a minimum threshold photon energy level needed to bump the electron for each particular photoelectric material. Light photon energy relates to the light frequency.
Observations of photoconductive metal experimentally irradiated with light showed the following:
Solar Energy And Photo Electric Effect
The sun’s radiation has a continuous band of electromagnetic frequencies. Photons are small, localized bundles of light energy delivered within the electromagnetic radiation wave band. When a single light photon interacts on a photoconductive metal atom’s electron that electron is released from orbit.
During the interaction the photon’s energy transfers instantaneously across to the single electron and it is bumped free of the metal atom. When a high frequency photon arrives with excess energy bumps the electron it transfers greater kinetic energy to the electron.
Remember that the photon’s energy must be high enough to overcome the binding elastic energy of the atom structure. If the energy (or frequency) is too low, no electrons will be bumped free. For each photoconductive metal there is an electromagnetic threshold frequency for the incident radiation. There is no photoelectric effect below that light frequency.
So low-frequency light has less energy in its photons and will not trigger the photoelectric effect. That means, because each photon’s energy is below the electron minimum binding energy level, more photons have no effect. Adding intensity to the low-frequency light emissions won’t increase the photoelectron releases that make electricity. Light intensity is measured in lumens and is the delivered brightness.
The maximum kinetic energy (electron flow) is dependent on the frequency rather than amount or intensity of the light. Illumination with twice as much light of the right frequency results in twice as many photons with more electrons being released.
Producing Electricity Directly From Sunlight
The measured electron flow is a function of the photon’s kinetic energy from it's radiant frequency. It must be slightly more than sufficient to free tightly bound electrons during the photon to electron impact. If photon’s energy just frees the electron with zero kinetic energy the electron will return to the electron gap.
Solar photovoltaic cells convert sunlight directly into electricity. This process of converting light (photons) to electricity (voltage) is called the photovoltaic (PV) effect. Solar cells are made of layered silicon semiconducting materials. The findings are similar to those explained by Einstein a hundred years ago.
When sunlight shines on these layered semiconductor materials, the photon energy bumps silicon electrons loose from their atoms. Free electrons flow through the material to produce DC electricity. So that is the starting point of how to get free solar power.
Solar PV cells are typically combined end to end in series into convenient sized PV panels or modules. Usually a module is made into a flat plate structure of a convenient size for mounting on a collector frame. Several modules are mounted together in a flat PV array such that modules can be further connected in series or parallel to increase collected voltage.
Mounting Solar To Make Electricity
PV arrays are mounted onto a flat fixed plane (roof) or framing that face panels perpendicular towards the midday sun.
Alternatively, modules could be mounted within a tracking device that follows the sun across the sky on its typical path.
Tracking is more complex but allows modules to face the most intense sunlight over the course of each day. The solar tracking mechanics are optimised for the earth’s annual rotation around the sun to maximise daily solar intensity.
Several PV modules connected in a fixed roof mounted array can provide enough power for a household. Hundreds of PV arrays in a field can be interconnected for large commercial and industrial electrical applications. A large factory or shopping mall that operates during daylight could use this application to reduce operational costs.
How To Get Free Solar Power With A PV Future
A solar cell’s performance is measured by how efficiently it turns sunlight into electricity. Only a portion of the sunlight shining on the cell generates electricity. Typical commercial solar PV cells have about 15%- 22% efficiency.
The semiconductor materials that make up the cell absorb some incident sunlight but much of it is reflected. This unfortunately isn't how to get free solar power.
Remember that only certain photon energy frequencies will work to create electricity. Low solar PV efficiencies mean that larger solar arrays or tracking mechanisms are needed, and that means higher investment costs.
Sometimes roof space for solar PV cells is limited or the roof plane orientation is not optimal. To compensate for space and achieve better financial returns the modules can be mounted on simple a tracking device. Owners of electricity based industries and large commercial buildings may find installing sophisticated tracking devices have positive financial paybacks.
Innovation in solar cell manufacturing and component technology will see efficiencies improve. The solar PV efficiency has improved significantly while the cost per kWp has fallen. Many of the cost improvements have come from manufacturing innovations in solar module assembly.
Product innovation will see solar adoption grow. Electrically interconnected thin film solar semiconductor cell materials can be applied to roofing tiles, building elements or infused into glazing.
The infused solar PV technology offers the functionality, protection and durability of the replaced product but with electrical production capability.
Thin film technology applied to solar applications will also expand the places where PV generation will be installed.
The future of solar panels to generate free electricity looks bright.
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