From Solar Power in Building Design: The Engineer's Complete Design Resource

Introduction

Solar, or photovoltaic (PV), cells are electronic devices that essentially convert the solar energy of sunlight into electric energy or electricity. The physics of solar cells is based on the same semiconductor principles as diodes and transistors, which form the building blocks of the entire world of electronics.

Solar cells convert energy as long as there is sunlight. In the evenings and during cloudy conditions, the conversion process diminishes. It stops completely at dusk and resumes at dawn. Solar cells do not store electricity, but batteries can be used to store the energy.

One of the most fascinating aspects of solar cells is their ability to convert the most abundant and free form of energy into electricity, without moving parts or components and without producing any adverse forms of pollution that affect the ecology, as is associated with most known forms of nonrenewable energy production methods, such as fossil fuel, hydroelectric, or nuclear energy plants.

In this chapter we will review the overall solar energy conversion process, system configurations, and the economics associated with the technology. We will also briefly look into the mechanism of hydrogen fuel cells.

In Chapter 2 of this book we will review the fundamentals of solar power cogeneration design and explore a number of applications including an actual design of a 500-kilowatt (kW) solar power installation project, which also includes a detailed analysis of all system design parameters.

A Brief History of the Photoelectric Phenomenon

In the later part of the century, physicists discovered...

Copyright The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. 2008 under license agreement with Books24x7

Products & Services
Alternative Energy Installation Services
Alternative energy installation services specify and install photovoltaic, wind energy, and other distributed energy production systems for commercial and residential applications.
Alternative Power Generators
Alternative power generators produce electricity from renewable energy sources, such as wind, flowing water, solar energy and biomass, which create less environmental damage and pollution than fossil fuels.
Photovoltaic Cells and Panels
Photovoltaic cells or solar cells generate a voltage when radiant energy falls on the boundary between dissimilar substances.  A solar panel, also called a photovoltaic panel, is a group of photovoltaic cells that are enclosed to keep the cells safe and so that the voltage obtained from each cell can be combined.
Fuel Cell and Solar Test Equipment
Battery, fuel cell and solar test equipment consists of specialized test stations, stands or systems, monitors and component modules for performance or endurance testing.
Photovoltaic (PV) and Solar Power Systems
Solar power systems convert light into electricity. They are the building blocks of photovoltaic (PV) modules.

Topics of Interest

Introduction In Chapter 1 we briefly reviewed specifics of monocrystalline, polycrystalline, amorphous, and concentrator cell technologies. In this chapter the principal technologies reviewed are...

With rising energy costs and an unsteady supply, the future for solar electric power looks bright. In Dish/PVCC, all sunlight focuses on the entrance of a sphere. The interior cavity wall is lined...

Thin films and slimmed-down cell structures look like the next big step in shrinking the cost per watt of solar power. Solar cells today can't generate electricity as cheaply as fossil fuel-fired...

Overview One form of energy can be converted into another form with a certain loss of efficiency. The various forms of energy currently available and the methods to generate them appear below. Some...

Whilst there has been a noticeable rise in the adoption of alternative energy sources such as wind turbines and solar cells, one technology appears to be the future of power generation - fuel cells. A...

Product Announcements
Clean Harbors Environmental Services, Inc.
Clean Harbors Environmental Services, Inc.
Energy Control Systems