What Does PV Mean?

Did you know that the quantity of sunshine that hits the planet in an hour and a half is enough to power the world for a year?

The term photovoltaic (PV) was first used in 1890. The term derives from the Greek terms photo, ‘phos,’ which means light, and volt, which means electricity.

As a result, photovoltaic refers to light-electricity. This defines the photovoltaic processes in which light is directly converted into electricity.

Solar panels are making use of this feature to provide green energy to homes and businesses. There is optimism that photovoltaic systems will enable us to become self-sufficient in terms of fossil fuels. This will then address the present environmental issues.

What does the term photovoltaic mean? Read on to find out more information about photovoltaic technology!

What is solar energy?

The sun creates energy in the form of light and we call this solar energy.

The composition of the Sun’s beams is of ultraviolet, visible, and infrared wavelengths. Visible light contains the spectrum of colours that humans see. Ultraviolet and infrared light is invisible.

The significance of using solar energy is that it is a renewable and harvested form of energy over time. Furthermore, it is entirely free and has no negative impact on the environment.

In the past and today, the majority of power produced is by burning fossil fuels, resulting in carbon dioxide and other pollutants.

Solar energy does not discharge any pollutants into the atmosphere, making it a clean form of energy that does not harm our environment.

Photovoltaic technology is one of the main types of solar energy today. 

Birds eye view of houses in suburb with solar panels

What is Photovoltaic (PV)?

You generate photovoltaic solar energy by converting sunlight to electricity using photoelectric effect-based technology. It is a renewable, limitless, and non-polluting energy. It’s generated in various ways, from modest self-consumption generators to extensive solar facilities.

It’s built on the photoelectric effect, which occurs when certain materials absorb light particles or protons and release electrons, creating an electric current.

You accomplish this by using a semiconductor device called photovoltaic cells. These makeup solar panels. You classify solar panels into three types:

  • Monocrystalline panels
  • Polycrystalline panels
  • Thin-film panels

Furthermore, there are two sorts of systems: those connected to the grid and those off the grid. Let’s look at the differences below: 

Monocrystalline solar panels

Monocrystalline solar cells are the most popular option on the market and the most efficient form of the solar cell. These panels tend to also be the more expensive option. Using monocrystalline cells, there is a guarantee of decent levels of efficiency in all weather conditions, making them a great choice.

Single crystalline cells are another name for monocrystalline solar panels. Their rich black colour and sharp edges make them instantly recognisable. These solar panels are also constructed of a highly pure type of silicon. This makes them the most effective material for converting sunlight into electricity.

Furthermore, monocrystalline silicon solar cells are the most space-efficient kind of silicon solar cell. They take up the least amount of area of any solar panel technology now available on the market. They also have the distinct benefit of being the longest-lasting solar panel technology, with a current life expectancy of roughly 50 years. As a result, the majority of manufacturers will provide you with guarantees of up to 25 years, which will last half of their intended lifetime.

While this system remains superior in almost every area compared to other versions, they are the most costly option among all solar cell types.

Polycrystalline solar panels

In many cases, polycrystalline solar panels are considered a more cost-effective option, particularly for residential owners. This is due to their efficiency of 13 per cent. They’re created by melting together smaller silicon crystals and then recrystallizing them.

The manufacturing method is less time-consuming and wasteful than that of monocrystalline panels. However, they can suffer more when exposed to extreme temperatures, which might shorten their lifespan. But in general, they perform just as well as their more costly counterparts.

Due to the general lower power conversion efficiency of polycrystalline solar panels, its primary disadvantage is that they require a more significant number of panels to achieve the exact energy conversion.

Thin-film solar panels

The solar industry’s future is in thin-film solar panels. They are: 

  • Incredibly cost-effective
  • Consume less material
  • Contain no harmful components
  • Create less waste
  • Very simple to make

The effectiveness of the Thin-Film system varies depending on the kind of PV material used in the cells, but in general, they have efficiencies ranging from 7 to 18 per cent.

Thin-film panels are less influenced by high temperatures and lose just a tiny fraction of their effectiveness when temperatures rise. In addition, these panels are protected with high-quality glass layers that are very robust against moisture, making them perfect to use in tropical climates where it’s not only hot but also humid.

Thin-Film cells have the lowest lifespan lasting between 10 and 20 years.  

There are three types of solar Thin-Film cells1. Amorphous Silicon (a-Si)

This type of Thin-Film is made from amorphous silicon (a-Si), which is non-crystalline silicon making them much easier to produce than mono or polycrystalline solar cells. 2. Cadmium Telluride (CdTe)

According to the International Energy Agency, this is the second most widely used solar panel in the world, behind crystalline cells.

In contrast to a-Si solar cells, these solar panels are constructed from a specific chemical compound known as Cadmium Telluride. Cadmium Telluride is highly effective in collecting light from the Sun and converting it into usable energy.3. Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS)

You make up a powerful semiconductor by stacking layers of copper, gallium, indium, and selenium on top of one another. This stacking allows the cells to convert sunlight into energy with high efficiency.

This solar cell type is easily distinguished by its thin look – it is for this reason, it’s referred to as “Thin-Film” solar cells.

They are more pliable and lighter than the other varieties, making them ideal for portable devices.

PV thin-film can come in black or blue depending on the material used to manufacture them.

How are thin-film solar panels made?

Thin-Film solar panels are by far the simplest and quickest to produce.

Each thin-film solar panel is composed of three major components:

  • Photovoltaic Material – This is the primary semiconducting material responsible for turning sunlight into energy
  • A Conductive Sheet – A conductive element such as an aluminium coating. This prevents electrical loss and improves conductivity
  • Protective Layer – To increase durability and protect the solar panel from the environment, a thin covering of high-quality plastic or glass is placed on the top of the device

To construct the solar panel, you sandwich these three layers together. The primary PV material goes between the sheet of conductive material and the layer of glass or plastic. It is that simple!

Advantages of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels?

Now that you understand what a photovoltaic (PV) panel is and how it works, it’s time to learn about the advantages of using this technology. The following is a brief list of the benefits of solar energy:

It is sustainable and plentiful

The most significant advantage of solar energy is that it is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week and never runs out. According to experts, the Sun will continue to shine for at least another 5 billion years, supplying humanity with solar energy during that time. 

It Is clean power and eco-friendly

Solar energy, in contrast to fossil fuels, has no detrimental effect on the environment. As a result, when you utilise solar power, you are helping to save the environment.

Low maintenance and cost efficient

Solar energy systems, fortunately, do not have many moving components. Therefore they do not require a lot of maintenance.

Almost all trustworthy manufacturers provide a 20-25 year guarantee on their solar panels. After that, you merely need to keep the panels’ surfaces moderately clean.

Reduction of your electricity costs

The more power you generate using solar panels, the less you rely on the grid. As a result, the lower your energy expenses will be. 

Earning with solar panels

The Small-Scale Technology Certificate Scheme, or “STC,” is Australia’s national government incentive programme. It’s a financial incentive scheme that encourages you to purchase renewable energy equipment like solar panels, inverters, and storage options like solar batteries.

The easiest method to optimise potential savings is to use solar electricity in the home. However, if that is not the case, your excess solar energy can transfer to the grid.

Your energy supplier will then pay for the electricity. The amount you get is known as the FiT or Feed-In Tariff. Because each energy supplier has a different tariff amount, it is worthwhile to browse around.

Grid-connected or off-grid?

You classify PV systems according to whether or not they’re linked to the grid. We have two primary PV systems in this regard:

Off-grid

These are systems that are not linked to the power grid. They are often used to meet the energy demands of rural structures or holiday houses that do not connect to the public grid.

Because they do not require specific licences from electrical distribution companies, these panels are a practical solution.

However, because they are entirely self-contained, off-grid systems typically require extra solar batteries or generators to provide power when the Sun is not shining.

Grid-connected

Since these installations are connected to the grid, it is possible to consume electricity from the power company whenever you want it or your solar power.

Should this not be the case, you can use the power generated by your solar panels for your personal needs, and you can also opt to sell all of it or part of it back to the power grid.

Photovoltaics going forward

According to forecasts, the worldwide solar energy industry will hit $223.3 billion by 2026.

The fast expansion of rooftop solar installations and the growing acceptance of solar technology in the architectural area are the primary drivers of the rising demand for solar panels. Furthermore, recent technological breakthroughs have accelerated the use of solar-powered electricity generation systems.

For example, researchers have created a unique design that might allow solar panels to extract even more energy from the Sun. In addition, the cost of solar panels has dropped dramatically in recent years.

We are all turning our attention toward new sustainable energy sources in one way or another. Photovoltaic cells and concentrated solar power are the only two generally recognised solar technologies available today.  But solar energy will eventually eclipse all other forms of energy generation, and small steps are being taken in that direction.

Silicon-based solar panels are expected to gain popularity in the following years and continue to become affordable to the man in the street if installed in significant numbers in the coming years.

However, key industry participants will invest more in development and research to improve photovoltaic cell efficiency and find a better photovoltaic material than silicon. These advancements, however, will take time and are only achievable if solar cells are mass-produced and installed. As a result,  solar panels’ future is as bright as the sun’s.

Let it shine bright!

Solar panels are the solution if the prospect of having decreased energy expenses all year appeals to you.

Now that you understand what photovoltaic (PV) solar panels are, you can consider your options and select the best one for you.

If you are thinking of getting solar, it can get so confusing with all the options available! So why not contact our team, who can guide you and choose the best solar set-up for you!

Next steps…

Interested in solar? By clicking below you can use our smart solar calculator to find out just how much you could save with solar, what rebate you are eligible for, and the impact you will have on the environment.

Don’t wait until next quarter’s bloated bill, and get started today!

Click here to calculate your solar savings!

Join over 20,000 homeowners who have made the switch with Instyle Solar, or the 1000+ positive reviewers who have been more than happy with their solar install.

Otherwise, you can always contact us on 1300 133 556, or email if you prefer at [email protected].

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