Electricity is one of the most important, if not the most important utility men can’t live without. It has become an essential part of our lives. But nowadays, electricity charges have climbed continuously, making it such an expensive necessity. The good news is, there are actually many sources of power that you can use as an alternative. These come from natural sources such as the wind energy generated by windmills or the most common of them all, heat energy from the sun. Electricity generated from the sun is called solar power. Sure, everyone knows that. But what most people are unaware of is how solar power works.
Whatever solar-powered device you’d like to use, all of them utilize the same concept to produce electricity. It’s almost similar to that of an outlet or batteries. In all cases, the power comes from the free flow of electrons in a circuit.
To fully be knowledgeable on how solar power works, let’s have some flashback from our high school chemistry. Pure silicon is known as the basic component in solar panels, same as that used in computers. A silicon, when bared of its impurities, becomes a perfect neutral surface for electron transmission. Silicons have eight electrons in their outer shell but carries only four to have a neutral state. This means that there is still some room for four more electrons. When one silicon atom connects to other silicon atoms, both will take on each other’s remaining electrons. This is a strong bond, resulting from years of combination in order to create a big piece of a pure silicon. This pure silicon is then used to assemble solar panels.
This is where science becomes part of how solar power works. One should be aware that solar panels are made by the union of silicon with the other elements to create either negative or positive charges to generate electricity. An example of this process is if a silicon combines with phosphorus. Since phosphorus has five electrons, it gains an additional electron aside from the eight electrons needed. That one electron cannot be left behind because it is bonded with the other phosphorus electrons. This means that the silicon-phosphorus plate is negatively charged. In order for these to produce electricity, silicon must also be combined to other elements. This would then create a positive charge. The two plates will be combined together with conductive wires between the two. The sunlight will send out energy particles called ‘photon’, which acts like a hammer in constant motion. Photons break the electrons present in the solar panels, thus generating electricity. This is how solar power works.
Solar panels have their pros and cons too. Same as other materials, it also has its own set of weaknesses. They may appear big but they generate only a little amount of electricity relative to other sources. The bigger the item that needs solar power, the greater the number of solar cells it would need. One factor that lessens the life of solar panels are infrared waves. But overall, it’s still a good alternative and a great way to help save the environment.