HOW SOLAR ENERGY WORKSPhotovoltaic Solar Electricity – When you understand how it works, you appreciate it even more.At SunEdison, we believe in the power of the sun and we want everyone to understand how it works, so they too can benefit from the power of photovoltaic electricity.
How Solar Energy Works
Photovoltaic (PV) literally means “light” and “electric.” Photovoltaic technologies are used to generate solar electricity by using solar cells packaged in photovoltaic modules.
The most important components of a PV cell are the two layers of semiconductor material. When sunlight strikes the PV cell, the solar energy excites electrons that generate an electric voltage and current. Extremely thin wires running along the top layer of the PV cell carry these electrons to an electrical circuit.
A photovoltaic module is made of an assembly of photovoltaic cells wired in series to produce a desired voltage and current. The PV Cells are encapsulated within glass and/or plastic to provide protection from the weather. Photovoltaic modules are connected together to form an array. The array is connected to an inverter which converts the Direct Current (DC) of the PV modules to Alternating Current (AC).
SunEdison uses many types of solar panels (solar modules). We are unique in that we are “technology neutral.” In other words, we do not manufacture any photovoltaic technologies, we simply select the technologies that provide the most reliability and value, and then we customize our systems to meet our customers’ financial, power production and facility needs.
To learn more about solar, you can also check out our interactive glossary or link to the following industry resources:
Canadian Solar Power Industries Association
US Department of Energy: Clean Energy Technology
Environmental Protection Agency: Clean Energy
Sandia National Laboratory Photovoltaic Solar Research and Development