Solar Power Essay

Submitted By pgem1
Words: 1302
Pages: 6

Jad Choujaa October 10, 2014. Solar Power a. Solar power is possible when the cells in a solar panel create an electrical current using the photons, packets of light energy, provided by the sun (1). This is possible with Photovoltaic technology (6). Photons emitted by the sun originate from the center of the sun's core and are created by the fusion of atoms (1). Photons take approximately a million years to work their way to the surface of the sun (1). Once the photon has reached the surface of the sun, it is launched into space at approximately 1.87x10⁵ miles per second, reaching earth in around 8.3 minutes (1, 2). Solar panel cells traditionally contained silicon crystals because when hit with light energy, the electrons would move around instead of just vibrating from side to side to create heat (3). Bonds between silicon atoms in a crystal are held together by electrons shared among all of the atoms in the crystal (3). A silicon crystal resembles the structure of a diamond crystal (5). Both create a network solid when bonded to themselves (silicon bonded to silicon or carbon bonded to carbon) (5). This means that the solid is hard, does not conduct electricity, and has a high melting point (5). Once the light energy is absorbed, an electrons is promoted to a higher energy level (3). This promoted electron is now able to move more freely than before, and as it moves around the structure an electrical current is formed (3). b. Efficiency varies in solar panels. The efficiency is mostly dependant on the material used in the panel (3). As stated earlier, silicon crystals were normally used in solar panels because they're the most efficient (22%­23%) (7). Large sized silicon crystals, however, are hard to grow, thus making this material much more expensive (3). Recently developed solar panels use smaller, cheaper materials like copper­indium­gallium­selenide crystals which are processed into thin, flexible films (8). This material, however, is not as efficient as converting solar energy into electricity as silicon (8). The percent of light energy converted by this material ranges between 15% to 18% (3). These are the more affordable solar panels that can be placed on top of a roof to produce electricity for a home (3). The most efficient solar panels created are placed on satellites. These panels theoretically have power efficiencies in close proximity to 50% (3). The quest for the ultimate model of the solar panel is indefinite.
Scientists continue to search for a method of converting photons into usable energy on earth that is cheaper and more efficient (4). The search is not hopeless, progress prevails (4). c. Solar power was meant to be used as an alternative to unclean conventional power sources, and it is. Solar power, however, has a few negative impacts on the environment as well (11). People are concerned about the amount of space solar technology requires (11).
Solar power technology demands a lot of space, and in order to get that space homes must be demolished (11). Other animals lose their homes on a daily basis due to deforestation and human activities such as construction, this is one of the ways their homes are lost. The photovoltaic systems, however, can be relocated to low­quality locations such as abandoned mining territory, transportation and transmission corridors, or brown fields (11). Smaller scale

systems gift society with the advantage of being roof­installable and don't negatively impact this land use issue (3, 11). Though solar cells don't use up water in order to convert light energy, water is used to manufacture the equipment (11). Also, large scale solar systems require 600 to 650 gallons of water per megawatt­hour in order to continuously cool the systems due to overheating (11). The process a photovoltaic cell undergoes during the manufacturing portion of its life can produce hazardous materials (11). Most of these
materials…