Solar Panels – How Do They Work?

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Solar energy provides a safe, renewable, clean and green alternative to fossil fuels. It is a non-polluting energy source that creates no harmful greenhouse gases and can provide electricity without the need for a grid connection. Read more

Solar panels convert sunlight directly into electric power. They are typically constructed from silicon, a semiconductor that generates electrons when exposed to sunlight. These electrons flow through a solar panel and are gathered by metal conductors to produce electricity.

A single solar cell produces only a small amount of power, but many solar cells are combined into strings to achieve a desired output voltage (watts). The individual cells are also connected in parallel with each other to increase the current capacity of the solar panels. Blocking diodes are incorporated into the solar modules to deal with partial array shading, which would otherwise severely limit the module’s output.

From Rays to Watts: Understanding the Science Behind Solar Panels

The solar cells are arranged into vast solar arrays called a “solar farm” which are used to provide large amounts of electricity for commercial and residential use. They can also be used to produce heat for heating and cooling buildings and reducing energy bills.

Solar panels can be installed on modern farm buildings and sheds, which are usually of a simple rectangular design and have a gentle roof pitch that allows for the panels to be fitted without disrupting the working of the building (Fig 19.3). They are also an increasingly common sight on new railway stations and other buildings. A good example is London’s new Blackfriars Station, which has 4400 solar panels designed into its roof structure to help it run as efficiently as possible.

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