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Photovoltaic technology

We at Pan Africa Solar concentrate on large scale solar photovoltaic technology.


Photovoltaics is the direct conversion of light into electricity at the atomic level. Some materials exhibit a property known as the photoelectric effect that causes them to absorb photons of light and release electrons. When these free electrons are captured, an electric current results that can be used as electricity.

In the 1960s, the United States space industry began to make the first serious use of solar photovoltaic technology to provide power aboard spacecraft. Through the space programs, the technology advanced, its reliability was established, and the cost began to decline. During the energy crisis in the 1970s, photovoltaic technology gained recognition as a source of power for non-space applications.

The diagram above illustrates the operation of a basic photovoltaic cell, also called a solar cell. Solar cells are made of the same kinds of semiconductor materials, such as silicon, used in the microelectronics industry.

For solar cells, a thin semiconductor wafer is specially treated to form an electric field, positive on one side and negative on the other. When light energy strikes the solar cell, electrons are knocked loose from the atoms in the semiconductor material. If electrical conductors are attached to the positive and negative sides, forming an electrical circuit, the electrons can be captured in the form of an electric current -- that is, electricity. This electricity can then be used to power a load, such as a light or a tool.

A number of solar cells electrically connected to each other and mounted in a support structure or frame is called a photovoltaic module. current produced is directly dependent on how much light strikes the module. The more modules that are wired together the more electricity is produced and in the case of one of our solar farms many thousands of modules are used.

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