How Does Solar Energy Work?


Quick Answer

Solar energy emerges when light energy from the sun strikes a silicon solar panel to produce an electrical current. The silicon in the solar panels can transform light energy into electricity because the movement of electrons in the silicon crystal generates electrical energy.

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How Does Solar Energy Work?
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Full Answer

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, each square meter of the earth's surface generates approximately a barrel of oil each year. Areas with little cloud cover, such as deserts, receive the most sun and generate the largest amount of solar energy. Solar energy is harnessed using solar heat collectors, solar thermal concentrating systems and photovoltaic cells. Solar heat collectors sit on rooftops, and they are used to collect solar energy for space heating, water heating and space cooling.

Solar thermal concentrating systems use mirrors and lenses to concentrate the rays of the sun to generate electricity for industrial applications. They also store the sun's heat energy to make electricity available when the sun is no longer shining. Photovoltaic cells are solar cells that convert the energy in sunlight directly into sunlight by using two layers of semiconductor material composed of silicon crystals. The three basic types of solar cells made from silicon are single-crystal cells, polycrystalline cells and amorphous cells.

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