This is an exciting time for solar power. According to industry reports, solar power made up about 40% of all new electric capacity installed in 2014. In addition, the nation’s solar capacity by the end of 2016 is projected to be double what it was at the beginning of 2015, while costs continue to decline and panel efficiencies increase.
With solar becoming literally more of a household word, many people want to know: How exactly do those panels work? Solar modules don’t seem to have any moving parts—so how exactly is energy being produced? How do those dark glassy panels create electricity?
The simple answer is that solar panels are made up of silicon and conductive metals, which form an electric field. When sunlight hits, the solar energy shakes electrons in the silicon out of their “natural” state, while a circuit attached to the panel is able to generate a current out of those electrons’ desire to return to their original positions within the panel.
If even that seems too complicated, never fear—this nifty animated infographic (provided courtesy of Save On Energy and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) breaks it down into easy-to-understand sections. No need to remember your physics or chemistry classes—just check out the image below!
Impress your friends with your newfound understanding of how solar panels produce energy!