With global acceptance of solar rising, having a comprehensive understanding of the technology and its terms would keep you at an advantage. You would not want to miss out on opportunities that renewable energy is bringing alongside the promise of an energy rich future. Knowing the important technical terms and its meaning can better your chances at making the right decision at the precipice of energy shift.
If it were thermal or nuclear energy terms, then you might have had to brush up on your physics and engineering to get a better grip at the meaning of the terms. However, PV technology utilizes solar energy, which skips the moving parts and complexities all together, offering a highly efficient yet simple energy generating option that is ridiculously easy and interesting to comprehend.
Photovoltaic (PV) Technology: PV technology converts electricity from sunlight. The technology uses semiconductors (silicon), which naturally generate electricity through harvesting sun rays. In exposure to the sun rays, the photons from the sun knock the electrons of the silicon material lose. Conductors attached to the positive and negative sides of the solar cell create an electrical circuit, through which electrons flow, generating electricity. This electricity is used to power the electricity grid.
Solar Cell: The octagonal unit within a solar panel that captures light. These units are made from silicon and they act like semiconductors. Thin and light by design, they have a positive layer and a negative layer, which create an electric field.
Solar Modules: Solar modules are designed containing multiple solar cells, which are interconnected with strings to pass the electricity after capturing sun rays. The modules are encased in a frame and they generate DC electricity in exposure to the sun rays.
Solar Panel Efficiency: The efficiency of a solar panel depends upon the percentage energy it can harvest from the sun to generate electricity. The more efficient the panels are the less number of panels you need to generate the required electricity level, gaining a higher return on investment.
Array: Just like multiple solar cells create a solar panel, multiple solar panels positioned and wired together are collectively called an array. The more panels you have in your array, the more electricity you can generate (depending on the location and efficiency of your panels of course).
Mounting Hardware: Solar panels are flat surfaced rectangle/square shaped metal framed components that require support to attain the perfect angle to harvest most of the sun rays. Mechanical contraptions are used to rack or mount the panels on ground or on rooftops. The supporting frames are generally made of aluminium, to enhance the durability of the installation, while reducing weight of the system (in case it’s a rooftop plant).
Inverter: As explained before, solar modules generate DC (direct current) electricity from harvesting sun rays. However, as our electricity grids and appliances are designed to use AC (alternating current) electricity, a device is needed to transform energy from solar panels into usable electricity. Inverters are used to serve this purpose. Besides converting DC into AC, inverters also maintain voltage and current level supply to the AC or DC circuits, protecting the electronic appliances.
Operations and Maintenance (O&M): Besides being built with weather resistant glass, aluminium frames and protective designs, solar panels come with a 25 to 27 years of performance warranty. This ensures performance and longevity of the modules, making them low maintenance. However, cleaning and management of the plant is required once in a while to ensure their suggested performance rate. Larger-scale commercial and utility-scale solar systems generally look for professional assistance in operation and maintenance of the plants due to the sheer enormity of the plants. However, nowadays, residential solar plant owners are also hiring professionals to take care of operations and maintenance of their solar plants.
Solar Tracker: Solar trackers are a mechanical contraption that can hold and move the solar panels changing their position to face the sun as it changes its position in the sky. Solar trackers can easily maximize energy yield.
With green energy transition, the future of the world is going to change for the better. We already have elaborate hopes towards developing smart cities, technologically inter-connected ystems, for a more convenient and comfortable lifestyle, all of which depend on green energy shift. In pursuit of such a future, let us take our first step by knowing everything about solar.
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