How Solar Panels Work and Why We Should Use Them!

As we know the climate is changing. Humans need to change to renewable sources of energy (energy sources that are sustainable and do not harm the environment) Check out this visual representation of Earths temperatures. Solar panels harness the energy of the sun. Seems clever right? Plants have been doing it for billions of years.

How does a solar panel work?

There are different types of solar panels and one is where pipes with flowing water are put under sunlight to heat them. I’m not as interested in these. Photo-voltaic cells, or PV cells are the cool stuff. Basically, we want to induce a current in order to have electricity. For this we need a potential difference. Photons can remove electrons from atoms which means sunlight can ‘knock off’ electrons in a solar panel. Two layers of silicon that are doped with different elements are used in order to provide the electric field/potential difference. Phosphorus is used in the layer that photons will strike as it has extra electrons. Boron is used in the other layer because it has fewer electrons. Many cells are looped up and that is why solar panels have their appearance of many little patches(look at the image for this post) The difference in charges will mean electrons flow through the layers and into a wire. There are also solar concentrated power plants, which admittedly are very cool too. Watch a cool video about them here.

So, why should we use them?

The first reason is the simple fact that we have a huge ball of radiation spewing out practically unlimited energy (I’m aware it will expand to a red giant and blow up in around 5 billion years) Enough energy reaches the Earth in an hour to power all of our energy use for a year. Granted, much of this energy is reflected, absorbed by the atmosphere or scattered but still around half reaches the surface. Also, solar panels in labs have been found to be as high as 20% efficient. This is promising!

Our current energy uses are pretty stupid as we are filling the atmosphere with pollution and climate changing gases. Elon Musk is one guy who thinks we need to make a transition, his company Tesla is making electric cars to combat gas-guzzling ordinary cars. He has also had the chance to advise Trump to not abandon the Paris climate agreement.

 

I just think it would be a shame to ruin this planet when there is huge opportunity in solar. To my joy, china is making moves in this area.

Solar maths

How solar panels work

Good solar article

Elon Musk, Trump and Climate change

Whats your opinion of solar panels, climate change or just Trump? Please post below!

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