A solar cell, also known as a photovoltaic cell, converts solar energy into electrical energy via a physical and chemical phenomenon called the photovoltaic effect.
How efficiently a solar cell converts solar energy into electricity depends on its type. Notably, solar PV panels are composed of many individual solar cells.
Therefore, PV cells are referred to as the building blocks of solar panels. These cells are connected in either series or parallel arrangements to form solar panels.
The photovoltaic cell converts solar energy into electricity directly from the sunlight. The amount of electricity generated depends on the characteristics of the light and various performance features of the solar cell.
If you want to know more about how the solar cell converts solar energy into electricity, let us discuss this further!
What are Solar Cells?
Do you know that the solar cell converts which energy into electrical energy? Well, it’s solar energy.
A solar or photovoltaic cell converts solar energy into electricity for our use. These cells are electronic devices fabricated and processed in a way computer memory chips are made.
The silicon used in the photovoltaic cell absorbs the photons emitted by the sun rays as a solar module is exposed to the sunlight. These cells are lightweight & sturdy and demand low maintenance.
Generally, a single solar cell produces around 0.5 to 0.6 volts. Also, these have to be connected in series to encourage the creation of additive voltage. Besides, the current generated by a solar cell ranges from 28 to 40 milliamp/ sq cm.
How Are Solar Cells Made?
Solar cells are manufactured from semiconductor material. Notably, there are two types of semiconductor materials – Silicon and Germanium.
Remarkably, about 90% of the photovoltaics across the globe are based on some variation of silicon. Silicon is duly processed to be used in the manufacture of these devices.
After the processing, its purest form is available in the shape of a cylinder. Then, this silicon cylinder is sliced into wafers, which are finally used to compose solar cells.
The silicon used for making solar cells can be cut or moulded into different forms. However, the fact that greatly matters is the purity of the silicon. Its purity rightly influences its productivity. The purest type of solar cell is monocrystalline.
Working: How does Photovoltaic Cell Converts Solar Energy Into Electricity?
Now, you know that the solar cell converts which energy into electrical energy. Here are some insights into the working of a solar cell.
When solar cells made with semiconductor material are exposed to sunlight, they absorb the solar energy. Then, they transfer this solar energy to the electrons, which are negatively charged particles.
This energy leads the electrons to flow through the material in the form of an electrical current.
Such an electric current is extracted when it comes in contact with a conductive metal such as the grid-like lines on solar cells.
Now, this power can be used to run domestic appliances as well as industrial equipment. Also, additional power can be supplied to the grid.
Types of Solar Cells
There are two primary types of solar cells that are used for rooftop solar systems –
#1. Monocrystalline Solar Cells
Monocrystalline PV cells are manufactured from single crystalline silicon. These have a distinctive appearance as they have a dark blue colour. The efficiency of these cells ranges from 19% to 20%.
Mono cells have a low-temperature coefficient. Also, they have a relatively low degradation rate of around 0.5% per year.
These cells are also costlier than polycrystalline cells.
#2. Polycrystalline Solar Cells
Polycrystalline solar cells are manufactured from multiple silicon crystals. These cells have a mixed colour. The efficiency of these cells ranges from 16% to 17%.
These panels have a degradation rate of around 0.7 to 0.8%. They’re cheaper than mono cells.
Power Generation From A Solar Cell: How Photovoltaic Cell Converts Solar Energy Into Electrical Power?
A photovoltaic cell is manufactured by two types of semiconductors – p-type and n-type silicon. Have a look at the points below to understand how a photovoltaic cell converts solar energy into power.
- – The p-type silicon is fabricated by adding atoms with one electron less than silicon in their outer energy level (e.g., boron).
- – Contrastingly, the n-type silicon is fabricated by atoms with one electron more than silicon in their outer level (e.g., phosphorus).
When a solar cell receives sunlight, the electrons in the silicon are discharged out. It leads to the creation of holes or space left by the ejected electrons. Due to this, the electric field moves electrons to the n-type layer and holes to the p-type layer.
On connecting the n-type and p-type layers with a metallic wire, the electrons start moving from the n-type to the p-type layer and then back to the n-type, generating an electric flow. Hence, this is how a photovoltaic cell converts solar energy into power for domestic or commercial usage.
Pricing of Solar Cells
Solar cells are used to make solar modules. Here’s an average price per watt:
- – Poly cells: Rs. 25.5/watt
- – Mono cells: Rs. 30/watt to Rs. 31/watt
The average price range of solar systems is as follows:
- – 1 KW solar system: Rs. 45,000 to Rs. 70,000
- – 2 KW solar system: Rs. 90,000 to Rs. 1,40,000
- – 3 KW solar system: Rs. 1,35,000 to Rs. 2,10,000
- – 4 KW solar system: Rs. 1,80,000 to Rs. 2,80,000
- – 5 KW solar system: Rs. 2,25,000 to Rs. 3,50,000
Pros And Cons of Solar Cells
- – The photovoltaic cell converts solar energy into electrical power for domestic and commercial uses. It leverages solar energy, which is a renewable and clean source of energy.
- – Solar cells aid in savings on your utility bills since your solar system will generate enough power. So, your power consumption from the grid will be slashed.
- – Using solar cells is a worthwhile solution to prevent climate change. It is a sustainable energy generation option.
- – One of the significant limitations of photovoltaic cells is their high cost of installation. The cost depends on your roof type and other parameters.
- – The energy generation period of solar cells is limited due to the limited hours of exposure to sunlight. You need to store energy for usage on cloudy days.
Why Isn’t Solar Energy More Popular?
Now that you have understood how a photovoltaic cell converts solar energy into electricity, let’s understand why it isn’t more popular. Considering the trends over the past few years, the world has started to focus more on renewable energy. However, solar energy is still not very popular among the people.
This is due to various factors, such as the slightly high upfront cost of the installation. However, investing in a solar panel system is highly rewarding. With technological upgradation, solar energy will bloom in the years to come.
Solar cells are electrical devices that make use of semiconductors to absorb radiation from sunlight. The photovoltaic cell converts solar energy into usable electric power.
If you have made up your mind to invest in solar cells, you must consider the affecting parameters. With advancements in technology in the solar energy field, the use of this energy is expected to rise in the near future.
Q. What does a solar cell do?
The photovoltaic cell converts solar energy into electrical energy for our usage. It is a tiny component working on energy conversion.
Q. What are the factors determining how efficiently the photovoltaic cell converts solar energy into electricity?
The factors determining how efficiently a photovoltaic cell converts solar energy into electricity include its orientation, tilt, the latitude of a place, and climatic constraints.
Q. What is the life of solar cells?
The solar cells are embedded in solar panels. These solar or PV panels have a working life of a minimum of 25 years. Even after 25 years, they can run with an efficiency of up to 70%.