Solar photovoltaic systems change sunlight into electricity.
The solar panel in your Solar Power Kit is made up of several photovoltaic (PV) cells. Each PV cell can absorb light energy from the sun. That energy moves electrons to the surface of the cell. These moving electrons flow through conductors to produce electricity. The PV cells are connected in the solar PV panel. A solar array composed of connected solar panels can be large enough to produce electricity for a house or building. Some PV power plants have large arrays that cover many acres to produce electricity for thousands of homes.
Small PV panels in calculators have been common for many years, and PV cells have become especially useful for providing electricity in places that are not near conventional sources. Solar powered traffic signs can be placed where there is not existing wiring and can also be easily moved. Solar panels composed of many solar cells have been used in space to power satellites since 1958.
According to a 2017 study by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), The Solar Foundation, and Generation 180, a clean energy nonprofit nearly 5,500 schools have solar installations. These total 910 megawatts of solar capacity are enough to power 190,000 homes.
Advantages of using solar:
- Solar systems do not produce greenhouse gases.
- Solar systems are quiet.
- Solar systems can be any size and can be easily expanded.
- Solar systems can be installed wherever there is sun and can be easily moved.
Disadvantages of using solar:
- Solar PV systems need sunlight to produce electricity. They do not produce electricity at night and they produce less on cloudy days.
- Some of the materials used to manufacture PV cells are toxic so their use and disposal is regulated in the U.S.
- Solar panels take up space. The solar system for a house may cover all of the roof and a community solar array could cover several acres.
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