Monday, December 18, 2017

A Close Look at Solar Power Cells

February 6, 2007 by  
Filed under Electronic & Electrical

Solar Power Cells
photo by Amanda

Solar power cells, sometime also referred to as photovoltaic cells, are devices that make use of the photovoltaic effect of semiconductors to generate electrical power directly from sunlight.

The high manufacturing costs of these photovoltaic cells have limited the wide use of these units unless the power requirements are extremely low. Even now, the use of solar power cells has to be in conjunction with other regular sources of power and not as a standalone power source.

The most common and cost effective use of solar power cell is in very low-power devices such as calculators with LCDs. They have also been used as the power source for roadside emergency telephones, remote sensing, cathodic protection of pipe lines and limited home applications in rural areas. One interesting application of solar power cells is to act as an auxiliary power source for orbiting satellites.

The principle behind the solar power cell is the passive gathering of solar energy (light) and its release as heat (energy). This simple yet sophisticated technology to convert sunlight into electrical energy has the potential to produce a practically unlimited supply of energy because it is renewable and non-polluting at the same time.

A solar power cell is designed to gather light and direct it towards diodes which in turn absorb a portion of it as heat energy in order to induce a flow of current or electrical power.

Contacts located on the top and bottom of the solar power cell allows the electric current to be drawn off and used. A solar power cell is composed of a combination of silicon, phosphorous and boron minerals.

The addition of phosphorous makes the solar power cell more efficient in generating more power effectively and faster. Boron on the other hand further accelerates this power generation process than by simply using silicon or phosphorus.

Declining manufacturing costs of solar power cells have resulted to the availability of approximately 1700 MW as of the end of 2005 and the expanding use of solar power in a cost-effective manner.

According to records, the average lowest retail cost of a photovoltaic array has decreased from $7.50 to $4 per watt at the end of 2005. With the tax and rebate incentives currently being given to developers of solar electric power, industry watchers predict that in some areas, solar power systems will be available for commercial use in as little as 10 years from now.

However, a shortage of refined silicon is proving to be a stumbling block that slow down production worldwide since 2004 and is expected to continue well into the current year.

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