What is Solar Photovoltaic?
Solar photovoltaic. It’s a mouthful. Fortunately, that’s all it is; the concept itself being quite simple. Discovered in 1932, the “photovoltaic effect” or “PV effect” is the term used for the ability of silicon to create an electric charge after exposure to sunlight. An element naturally found in sand, silicon absorbs sunlight in such a way that it “knocks electrons out of orbit”, which allows them to flow and produce electricity.
The first uses of solar photovoltaic were in orbiting satellites and spacecraft. It was a good way to keep them powered without having to bring an energy source along. Soon after, solar cells found its way into calculators, watches, and other daily items. Their use as a source of electricity was also developed, but only in the past two decades has it really been in the forefront of energy technology.
Around the world, countries are turning to renewable energies to help power their businesses and homes. Solar PV often comes third to hydropower and wind power respectively, although in some countries, it is quickly on the rise to be the number one source of renewable energy. Presently, the world produces over 300 gigawatts of solar power.
Solar energy in the Philippines is primarily solar PV. The other form, solar thermal, is not yet commonly used. Being close to the equator, and gifted with an abundance of sunlight, the generation of solar power is easily done by installing solar panels on the rooftops of homes, businesses, and other buildings; allowing each independent structure to produce its own power directly.
Note: Solar thermal energy uses the sun to generate heat, and electricity is generated from the heat. A different process from solar PV.
One of the main advantages of this technology is that after installation, a household or business immediately begins saving on their electric costs. An added benefit is that the site also stops contributing to pollution or greenhouse gas emissions because they stop pulling from what is likely to have been a power grid connected to a non-renewable form of energy.
As more people support this form of energy, the cheaper it becomes. Likely due to the fact that demand helps advance solar photovoltaic technology. In recent years, many manufacturers have looked into and have started producing solar cells that use material other than silicon, such as solar ink, solar dye, and conductive plastics. This broadens the possibilities because it means traditional solar panels and their set up are not the only option. Solar glass, for example, a technology developed in Europe, is making its way to countries that are turning to renewables as their main energy source.