Solar Cells - Photovoltaic, PV

renewable energy

Photovoltaic cells

The functioning of a photo-electric cell (or photocell) which is, for example, an important component of solar panels, is based on photoelectric effects.

The electrons in a metal can have energy supplied to them by radiation, e.g., light rays. This is known as photo-electric effect.

The energy of a light quantum (photon) is imparted to the most loosely bound electron of an atom. This energy may be sufficient to liberate the electron but not enough to eject it entirely from the metal (photo conductive effect); alternatively, it may be sufficient not only to liberate the electron but also to cause it to be ejected into the vacuum (normal photo-electric effect).

The energy balance of the elementary process involved in Solar panels is given by Einstein's equation:

hv = A + me v2

where:

  • hv denotes the energy of the photon, in which v is the frequency of the light radiation and h is Planck's constant (h = 6.625 x 10-27 erg-seconds),
  • A denotes the photo-electric work function (i.e., the energy required by a photon to eject an electron from a metal),
  • me denotes the mass of the electron, and
  • v its velocity in vacuum.

 

Is China the future?

China, which is expected to double its demand for energy in the next 15 to 20 years, currently consumes 45% of the world’s fossil fuels. This will mean that an additional 45% of oil, gas, coal, and mineral resources will have to be found. In the 1970’s oil was changing hands at around $10 per barrel. Today, new fracking techniques (getting oil, rather than blood out of a stone) will cost at least $80 per barrel, and this cost will increase as the oil rich reserves are quickly used up.

 

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