This project, therefore, attempts a look at the means or methods that represent strategies that actually augur well in terms of successful generation of Solar power at the present time.
.This leads to a discussion of the efficiency of PV solar systems, how the efficiency can be increased, their power capacity and how the power can be maintained. Following this, the possibility of connecting the system to the utility grid is explored, mention is made of the importance and uses of solar-powered systems in general, and long term strategies are considered for establishing solar systems more widely.
The way in which solar power technology works was explained in the October 20, 2008 issue of Scientific American (Locke). Sunlight is useful because it contains energy, and when this form of energy strikes an object, it generates heat. This can be demonstrated, for example by sitting in the Sun when we feel warm. However, when certain materials are struck by this same energy, electricity is produced instead. It is this process that can then be harnessed to generate electrical power from sunlight.
Examples of such materials are silicon crystals, which are large and hard to grow and therefore expensive, and crystals made of copper-indium-gallium-selenide, which are smaller, thinner and cheaper although not as efficient. Such crystals are able to convert sunlight into electricity because the electrons in the “get up and move when exposed to light instead of just jiggling in place to make heat”.
The interviewee Paul Alivisatos from the Helios Solar Energy Research Project explains further that the bonds between silicon atoms consist of shared electrons. When a photon, which is a packet of light energy, is absorbed, and an electron is sufficiently excited to a higher energy level making it freer to move around, the movement of that electron generates current.