Scientists are continually searching for different forms of renewable energy. Solar cell energy is one such form of power. This type of energy relies on special solar powered devices to convert sunlight into electricity.
Solar cell energy is produced through the photovoltaic effect, a physical process during which solar cells convert sunlight into power. Electromagnetic radiation from the sunlight generates an electric current that powers these solar cells, or photovoltaic cells or modules, creating renewable energy.
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The sun's energy is made up of photons. These photons are like small containers of power, and hold various levels of energy. The level of each photon's power depends upon its individual wavelength of light. When these photons hit a solar cell created to harness their power, they can be absorbed, causing the photon's energy to be absorbed by an electron in the cell. The cell can then generate an electrical current with the power from the photon.
Though photovoltaic cells were once used in space projects alone, they are now available in many areas of the earth. They are made of semiconductors, which often contain a silicon base. This allows the cells to absorb and release the energy transmitted from the light source.
A very small device, such as a calculator, can be powered by solar energy. Solar cell energy can also be used on an enormous scale, such as through the use of solar panels or modules that can power entire buildings. Satellites run on solar cells, as do some entire electrical systems. Emergency road signs, buoys, call boxes, parking lot lights and many other items used for the general public on a daily basis are powered by solar cell energy.
During a sunny day, the sun generates about 1,000 watts of solar energy per square meter (.000621371192 mile). In theory, this is enough energy to power the planet. In order to do so, many scientists and economists agree that the cost of solar cells per watt will need to be decreased, while their efficiency will need to be increased.
Many solar energy companies are presently focused on the development of high-efficiency solar cells. These cells are able to produce more electricity per watt. High-efficiency cells are popular because they are considered cost efficient and a cheaper way of producing solar cell energy. Though solar energy cells can be expensive, they usually have a lifespan of at least 20 years. Costs for solar power energy devices are figured on a per watt average.