After a year about researching and writing about solar panels and solar energy, I still find myself trying to explain the process to novices. Sometimes, I am able to easily tell interested people about PV panels and the conversion of sunlight energy to electricity. Other times, I find myself struggling, especially when my audience does not have the industry terms memorized.
Yesterday, I was so glad to find the following video that shows how solar panels are made:
To summarize the information above, in order to make solar panels, you will need crystalline silicon, which is created into disks about 1 centimeter thick. The silicon disks are treated, and then dopants and metal conductors are spread across the solar disks. Glass covers the silicon disks in order to protect them from the elements. One of the biggest challenges afterwards is to prevent the solar panels from overheating.
The entire process of how solar panels are made is explained on aboutmyplanet.com:
“First, photovoltaic cells made of silicone with conducting grooves across their surfaces get wires carefully soldered on to them. Each cell then gets a bath, cleaned using sound waves in warm water. Then, the cells are soldered together into a strip of nine. Each strip needs to be handled gently— they have a special suction cup device to lift it without causing damage or getting anything dirty. The strips are tested to make sure that the voltage is correct and no soldering needs to be repaired or redone.”
“Then, the strips are assembled into groups of four and placed onto a sheet of layered glass— transparent enough that sunlight can get through to the solar cells, and rigid enough to prevent damage to the cells and make the panels easy to mount and to maneuver. The photovoltaic cells are anchored to the glass using a thin layer of laminate, and the whole thing is cooked in an airtight oven for fifteen minutes.”
After “cooking” the panels, the final step is to test their operation. The sheet is placed under a lamp that simulates sunlight to be sure that it properly produces voltage. How long can you expect it to take in making a solar panel? About one hour, from start to finish!
By learning just a bit about how solar panels are made, you can understand the process of converting sunlight to clean electricity. I hope you feel a little bit smarter, and perhaps a bit “greener” after reading this post.
Did I miss anything? Do you want to know more? Please add your comments below. Class dismissed!