Solar technology is the transformation of solar energy from the sun into usable electricity, either directly by means of photovoltaics, indirectly via concentrating solar power, or a combination of both. Photovoltaic systems harness the power of light by harnessing solar energy or by using solar cells to capture solar energy and convert it into usable electricity.
There are three main categories of solar technology; active solar energy, passive solar energy, and renewable solar energy. Most people understand the first two types; passive solar energy is used to heat water and cool air, and renewable solar energy is used to generate electricity using the sun, wind, and geothermal resources.
The major breakthrough in solar technology was the discovery of silicon, which can be used to produce the maximum number of electrons to be used for electricity. Silicon was chosen because it has the best capacity to create electricity when paired with another element. Silicon is a semiconductor, meaning it has an arrangement of the electrons and protons in the semiconductor’s core which causes the electrons to line up in a way that creates energy. When this energy is harnessed, the electrons flow and create electricity. In the semiconductor solar technology cell, an element that absorbs light in the visible spectrum and an element that absorbs ultraviolet light; both types of light have the ability to create an electric current when put together.
The third major breakthrough in solar technology came with the discovery of n-type silicon. This type of silicon works in a different way than other types. Unlike other silicon, n-type silicon has an extra electron in its center shell which, when combined with hydrogen, creates a reaction known as the photovoltaic effect. The photovoltaic effect is what allows solar cells to convert sunlight into solar power. The more layers of n-type silicon that are there, the better the photovoltaic effect will work.
While silicon was the first element to discover, researchers soon realized that they could only produce solar cells from silicon with the help of indium gallate. By introducing boron into the equation, they were able to produce solar panels that were five times stronger than those that were created using pure silicon. This new material soon became known as gallium arsenide solar panels.
The fourth significant breakthrough in solar technology came with the development of devices known as solar modules. These are the solar cells that you can buy today. In the past, solar panels had to be assembled by hand or be installed by skilled craftsmen, both of which are time-consuming. Solar modules, on the other hand, are small and easy enough for most people to assemble. They are also commercially available and many manufacturers now offer installation kits that allow just about anyone to install their own solar cells.
Solar heat panels, or collectors, are also becoming more popular because they can provide a low-cost way to produce your own solar energy. These are simply boxes with mirrors on them that are designed to reflect and absorb solar energy. The solar collector is made up of a series of solar cells, typically composed of silicon, boron, and indium, all of which combine to create an efficient collector that can convert energy into electricity. Unlike previous solar collectors, however, today’s transparent solar collectors can be installed virtually anywhere. Due to their ease of use and cheap price, they are now often used as backup energy sources for homes that may not otherwise be able to afford solar panel installation.
Finally, solar water heaters are becoming increasingly common because they can supply solar energy directly, without the need for connection to a power grid. When used in conjunction with a solar heating system, a heater can greatly reduce your electric bill by delivering solar energy directly to your home. Because they work so well, they are sometimes used in conjunction with solar panels. In the past, water heaters were large, very expensive pieces of machinery that were necessary to run, but now many modern versions are much smaller and easier to maintain. They are also more affordable, as technology continues to advance and they become more mainstream.
All of these solar technology advancements have been the result of decades of research and many years of development. Although most of the technological advances you see today were first pioneered by researchers and scientists thirty years ago, newer, faster solar cell technologies have been developed over the last several years. Some of the newest technologies include: using thin-film technology to make solar cells and on panels, using semiconductor material to make solar cells, using optoelectronic technology to make solar cells, and using c-coupling devices to make solar cells more efficient.