WHAT IS SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC ENERGY AND HOW DOES IT WORK?

Solar photovoltaic energy or PV solar energy directly converts sunlight into electricity, using a technology based on the photovoltaic effect.

When radiation from the sun hits one of the faces of a photoelectric cell (many of which make up a solar panel), it produces an electric voltage differential between both faces that makes the electrons flow between one to the other, generating an electric current.

There are three types of solar panels:

  1. Photovoltaic, generators of electricity to be supplied to homes
  2. Thermal, installed on houses to receive the sun directly
  3. Thermodynamic, which operate in varying weather conditions, i.e. at night, when it’s raining or cloudy

When photovoltaic technology first began, it was used to provide electricity to satellites. According to APPA (the Spanish Association of Renewable Energy Producers), development of photovoltaic panels sped up in the 1950s and has now become an alternative to the use of fossil fuels.

AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE

Solar photovoltaic energy doesn\’t emit greenhouse gases that cause global warming in energy generation processes, making them the cleanest, most viable solution to prevent environmental degradation.


NON-CONTAMINATING

Photovoltaic energy does not emit toxic substances or contaminants into the air, which can be very damaging to the environment and to human beings. Toxic substances can acidify land and water ecosystems, and corrode buildings. Air contaminants can trigger heart disease, cancer and respiratory diseases like asthma.

Photovoltaic energy does not generate waste or contaminate water—an extremely important factor given the scarcity of water. Unlike fossil fuels and nuclear power plants, wind energy has one of the lowest water-consumption footprints, which makes it a key for conserving hydrological resources.


CREATES WEALTH AND JOBS

In addition, solar photovoltaic energy is a “native” energy, because it is available practically everywhere on the plant, which contributes to reducing energy imports and to creating wealth and local employment.

For these reasons, producing electricity through solar photovoltaic energy and its efficient use contributes to sustainable development.


INEXHAUSTIBLE

Compared to conventional energy sources such as coal, gas, oil and nuclear – reserves of which are finite – clean energies are just as available as the sun from which they originate and adapt to natural cycles, hence their name “renewables”. This makes them an essential element in a sustainable energy system that allows development today without risking that of future generations


INCREASINGLY COMPETITIVE

Nowadays renewables, specifically wind and photovoltaic, are cheaper than conventional energies in much of the world.

The main renewable technologies – such as wind and solar photovoltaic – are drastically reducing their costs, such that they are fully competitive with conventional sources in a growing number of locations. Economies of scale and innovation are already resulting in renewable energies becoming the most sustainable solution, not only environmentally but also economically, for powering the world. 


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