Energy - Solar photovoltaic

Electricity from solar energy

Solar photovoltaic panels

Solar cells, or Photovoltaic (pv) cells convert light into electricity.
Photovoltaic cells are created from a thin wafer of semiconductor material (mostly silicon). Two layers of differing electrical characteristics are created within the wafer by doping with impurities; typically boron - creating a 'P or Positive type' layer, and phosphorus for 'N or Negative type'. An electrostatic field is formed at the junction of these two layers; this provides the voltage required to drive current through a connected load. When the solar cell is exposed to light, energy from photons (particles of light) releases charge carriers within the silicon which are then driven by the electrostatic field as an electric current around the external circuit. The amount of current flowing in the circuit is proportional to the intensity of light.

Individual solar cells are the basic element for the construction of photovoltaic modules, roof integrated, solar electric roof tiles. The advent of thin film solar cells (organic/polymer solar cells) has made possible the manufacture of flexible or even foldable solar modules.

See also large-scale solar.


General solar PV info.

  • European Photovoltaic Industry Association
    ...aims to promote photovoltaics at the national, European and worldwide levels. This site has downloadable publications on photovoltaics and associated issues.
  • PV Resources
    An independent web site promoting photovoltaic applications and technologies. The website provides a wide range of information photovoltaic technology including projects, site analysis, PV basics, economics, etc.
  • The Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF)
    A non-profit organization, bringing solar power and modern communications to rural villages in the developing world.
  • IEA Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme (IEA PVPS)
    Established within the International Energy Agency, the IEA PVPS operates worldwide, via a network of national teams in member countries, conducting projects on the application of solar photovoltaic electricity. This website provides information about the results of the IEA PVPS programme including publications, national statistics of installed PV power, newsletter. etc.


  • Get started with Solar
    "...the most important first step anyone interested in solar can take is to make sure they’re getting accurate, reliable information on how the technology actually works."
    Read more from Chris Laughton's article here...