A cell that produces current under sunlight.
The main types of solar cell are:
- Polycrystalline Solar Cell - cheap to make as the conditions required to produce the silicon wafers do not need to be so tightly controlled. The downside is they are no so efficient.
- Monocrystalline Solar Cell - more expenive to make as the crystals are grown under carefully controlled conditions. Higher efficiency than Polycrystalline cells.
- Amorphous Solar Cell - the silicon is deposited on a backing substrate. These cells are not as efficient as the monocrytalline cells but they do perform better in low light levels.
In a square kilometre of sunlight there are 1,000 megawatts of solar power, the equivalent of a large nuclear power plant. Even if only 10 or 20 percent of the sunlight’s energy is extracted as electricity, the area of the solar cells will not be much larger than what we currently devote to nuclear, gas, or coal plants.
Energy can be stored at night (and during cloudy days) in a number of different ways:
A chemical reaction that eliminates the detrimental effect of electrically reactive atoms on a solar cell′s surface.
A wide band gap material chosen for its transparency to light. Generally used as the top layer of a photovoltaic device, the window allows almost all of the light to reach the semiconductor layers beneath.
See also: Amorphous Solar Cell, Cadmium Telluride, Concentrated Solar Power, Copper Indium Diselenide, Energy Return on Energy Invested, Gallium Arsenide, Indium Gallium Arsenide, Monocrystalline Solar Cell, Passivation, Photoelectrochemical Cell, Photovoltaic Array, Photovoltaic Cell, Polycrystalline Solar Cell, Renewable Energy, Solar Cell Efficiency, Solar Resource, Solar Spectrum, Split Spectrum Solar Cell, Zenith Angle.