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How solar power works?

Solar power generation with the help of photovoltaic cells

Solar energy is fundamental to life on earth and has a myriad of uses stretching back thousands of years. We receive solar energy in two primary forms – light and heat – and are blessed with enough energy in around one hour to power the entire plant for around one year.

It gives life to plants through photosynthesis, can warm our homes through direct solar gain, will heat water in solar hot water collectors and can even create electricity by creating high pressure steam or through the use of photovoltaic solar cells.

We will focus on the generation of electricity through the use of photovoltaic cells.

If you want to understand the physics of how photovoltaic cells work, you can read about it here but in simple terms they absorb light energy from the sun (called photons), which create a flow of electricity within solar cells.

Counter intuitively, solar cells perform gradually worse as the suns heat raises their temperature; like any electrical device they prefer to run cooler. This is the opposite of using the suns energy to produce heat for warming our homes or producing hot water; solar hot water systems for example, are designed to absorb and trap as much heat as possible and heat copper pipes which contain water.