Solar photovoltaic technology involves the conversion of sunlight directly into electricity, providing a modular, carbon emissions-free (during operation) source of unlimited energy.

Converting sunlight into electrical energy

Photovoltaic (PV) materials and devices convert sunlight into electrical energy. Incident photons excite electrons to leave the negative electrode and flow towards the positive electrode. This is helped by an electric field caused by two semiconductors; specifically chosen mixtures of silicon-based materials.

A single PV device is known as a cell. An individual PV cell is usually small, typically producing about 1 or 2 watts of power. To boost the power output of PV cells, they are connected together in chains to form larger units known as modules or panels. Modules can be used individually, or several can be connected to form arrays. One or more arrays is then connected to the electrical grid as part of a complete PV system. Because of this modular structure, PV systems can be built to meet almost any electric power need, small or large.

Benefits of Solar photovoltaic

Does not require fuel

Solar panels operate without any fuel. Natural solar irradiation is all that is needed.

Incentivized by regulation and policy

Government policy, such as economic incentive programs, have made solar projects more affordable and improved their return on investment.

Quiet and non-invasive to facilities

Solar panels can be mounted on rooftop surfaces or above window fixtures, with minimal impacts on facility operations.


The process of generating energy from solar panels produces no GHG emissions.

CONSIDErATIONS of Solar photovoltaic

Higher capital costs

Solar energy technologies have a higher capital cost during installation in terms of expense per unit of energy generated.

Requires large spaces & suitable rooftops if applicable

It can be difficult to find sufficient surface area to place a large group of solar panels. Building-mounted solar panels require additional design work to ensure the building is structurally stable.

Energy storage is expensive

Since solar energy is fuelled by an intermittent source that is based on weather conditions, energy storage is a critical factor to consider. However, these energy storage technologies are expensive and the system would not be economically viable at very small scales.

Intermittent electricity production

Solar energy is dependent on geographical location, panel tilt angle, and cloud cover. The site should be designed and the solar panels positioned to receive the most solar irradiance. However, cloud cover is not predictable and can impact the actual energy output of the system.

Not completely predictable energy supply

The unpredictability of solar energy can cause issues for the grid as sudden gaps in energy require ad-hoc energy substitutes. Solar panels in North America are usually placed facing the south, but during peak summer days, it is likely that solar energy will be exported back to the grid. On a large scale, this can cause issues for the utility such as reverse power flow.

Contain toxic materials

While most parts of solar panels can be recycled, there are some toxic materials that cannot and the disposal of these materials requires close attention.

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