Solar Electric (P.V. – Photovoltaics)

Photovoltaics (often shortened as PV) gets its name from the process of converting light (photons) to electricity (voltage), which is called the photovoltaic effect. This phenomenon was first exploited in 1954 by scientists at Bell Laboratories who created a working solar cell made from silicon that generated an electric current when exposed to sunlight. Solar cells were soon being used to power space satellites and smaller items such as calculators and watches. Today, electricity from solar cells has become cost competitive in many regions and photovoltaic systems are being deployed at large scales to help power the electric grid.

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PV cells can be made from various semi-conductor materials. The most commonly used material today is silicon but other materials, such the ones listed below, are being tested and used to increase the efficiency of converting sunlight to electricity.
  • Monocrystalline Silicon
  • Polycrystalline Silicon
  • Amorphous Silicon
  • Cadmium Telluride (CdTe)
  • Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS)
Almost 90% of the world’s PV technologies, today, are based on some variation of silicon.