What is Photovoltaic: Definition and 52 Discussions

Photovoltaics (PV) is the conversion of light into electricity using semiconducting materials that exhibit the photovoltaic effect, a phenomenon studied in physics, photochemistry, and electrochemistry. The photovoltaic effect is commercially utilized for electricity generation and as photosensors.
A photovoltaic system employs solar modules, each comprising a number of solar cells, which generate electrical power. PV installations may be ground-mounted, rooftop-mounted, wall-mounted or floating. The mount may be fixed or use a solar tracker to follow the sun across the sky.
Some hope that photovoltaic technology will produce enough affordable sustainable energy to help mitigate global warming caused by CO2. Solar PV has specific advantages as an energy source: once installed, its operation generates no pollution and no greenhouse gas emissions, it shows simple scalability in respect of power needs and silicon has large availability in the Earth's crust, although other materials required in PV system manufacture such as silver will eventually constrain further growth in the technology. Other major constraints identified are competition for land use and lack of labor in making funding applications. The use of PV as a main source requires energy storage systems or global distribution by high-voltage direct current power lines causing additional costs, and also has a number of other specific disadvantages such as unstable power generation and the requirement for power companies to compensate for too much solar power in the supply mix by having more reliable conventional power supplies in order to regulate demand peaks and potential undersupply. Production and installation does cause pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and there are no viable systems for recycling the panels once they are at the end of their lifespan after 10 to 30 years.
Photovoltaic systems have long been used in specialized applications as stand-alone installations and grid-connected PV systems have been in use since the 1990s. Photovoltaic modules were first mass-produced in 2000, when German environmentalists and the Eurosolar organization received government funding for a ten thousand roof program.Decreasing costs has allowed PV to grow as an energy source. This has been partially driven by massive Chinese government investment in developing solar production capacity since 2000, and achieving economies of scale. Much of the price of production is from the key component polysilicon, and most of the world supply is produced in China, especially in Xinjiang. Beside the subsidies, the low prices of solar panels in the 2010s has been achieved through the low price of energy from coal and cheap labour costs in Xinjiang, as well as improvements in manufacturing technology and efficiency. Advances in technology and increased manufacturing scale have also increased the efficiency of photovoltaic installations. Net metering and financial incentives, such as preferential feed-in tariffs for solar-generated electricity, have supported solar PV installations in many countries. Panel prices dropped by a factor of 4 between 2004 and 2011. Module prices dropped 90% of over the 2010s, but began increasing sharply in 2021.In 2019, worldwide installed PV capacity increased to more than 635 gigawatts (GW) covering approximately two percent of global electricity demand. After hydro and wind powers, PV is the third renewable energy source in terms of global capacity. In 2019 the International Energy Agency expected a growth by 700 - 880 GW from 2019 to 2024. In some instances, PV has offered the cheapest source of electrical power in regions with a high solar potential, with a bid for pricing as low as 0.01567 US$/kWh in Qatar in 2020.

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  1. Astronuc

    Perovskite semiconductors for solar photovoltaic cells

    I heard this while driving the other day. Progress On Perovskite Solar Cells | Earth Wise with Randy Simon https://earthwiseradio.org/podcast/progress-on-perovskite-solar-cells/ I wanted to check this out. Si melts at about 2,570°F (1,410°C). I'm not sure about 3000°F (1649°C), which...
  2. camerart

    Photovoltaic vs. thermal radiator Solar Panel comparison (using a lens)

    Hi, Has anyone experience with photovoltaic solar panels and thermal radiator type solar panels? 1/ How do they compare when both have the same collection area? If the thermal radiator was much smaller than the collection area, and a lens the size of the collection area was used, focused on...
  3. S

    Connection of two photovoltaic cells to produce larger current

    The answer from my teacher is two of these photovoltaic cells are connected in parallel. I can understand the parallel connection will produce same e.m.f but I don't understand why the total current will be greater than ##I##. I imagined one of the cell connected to a lamp. The current through...
  4. T

    How to Measure and Calculate Band Gap of a Photovoltaic Device

    Hi there! I bought a photovoltaic cell. I would like to learn its band gap at 300 K and 0 K. How can i measure band gap or calculate? I have already measured Temperature to Vmax values. I couldn't find any good information about this topic. Thanks.
  5. J

    I Photovoltaic Effect: Electron Movement & Mass Change

    Photons cause electrons to move to excited state. In excited state in the conduction band, electrons are free to move through the material. This motion of the electron creates an electric current in the cell. But how far can electrons move? And because electrons are free to move in...
  6. J

    PV system with an array of 1500 watts

    Hello all, I am in deep water here based on my very fundamental understanding of physics generally and solar design specifically. I am 83 years, homeless, and have access to land with one building, wood heat, non-potable site water, and nothing else. I want to make a PV system with an array...
  7. V

    A Photovoltaic Effect in CdS or CdSe

    I have a somewhat different question to the usual sort asked. In the literature on photovoltaics numerous authors, both academic and popular refer to an Audobert and Stora who in 1932 observed the photovoltaic effect in either CdS or CdSe, depending on the author, however no citation is given...
  8. R

    Solar PV:What happens to the lost energy?inductive recovery?

    Hi there, I am new in here, thanks for any reply. I took same title of a previous closed 3D by pranj5. As understood main part of the energy absorbed by PV panels goes in reflection and heat. The heat origins mainly in electrons that are excited but not enough to jump or they jump but they...
  9. A

    Simplicity as an advantage of a certain method or approach to a problem

    hi, i don't know if this qualifies as a question or not, but this is something i can't really understand. i am an engineering undergrad, when we are learning about the pros and cons of different method of doing anything , for example maximum power point tracking in PV systems, we discussed a...
  10. W

    Max power of a photovoltaic cell -- where did I go wrong?

    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known da Show that for a PV cell finding a maximum of power leads to the following equation: ##(1 +\frac{qV_{max}}{kT})\exp\left(\frac{qV_{max}}{kT}\right) = 1 + \frac{I_{sc}}{I_{rs}}## ##I_{sc}## is short circuit current and ##I_{rs}## is...
  11. E

    The flow of electrons in a photovoltaic p-n junction

    Hi,how is the movement of the electrons in photovoltaic? I understand that there is n and p layer. What I do not understand is why the electrons does not move more directly to the p-side from the n-side. In the currect explanation it requires a circuitry. Thanx.
  12. H

    Using a photodiode in optical communications

    Homework Statement [/B] As part of my coursework in a sensor systems module at university I was given the question: State the most important reason why the photovoltaic (as opposed to photoconductive) mode would be the most suitable choice for a long distance fibre optic transmission system...
  13. S

    Current limit through solar cell (forward bias)

    How much current can be forced through a photovoltaic (solar) cell before its performance starts to deteriorate? In certain accelerated lifetime testing 1.25xIsc is forced through a solar module while it sits inside a chamber (no incident light). Is there a theoretical limit to the amount of...
  14. B

    Short Circuit Current in Solar PV Cells

    I'm reading about short circuit current in a solar PV cell and I am a little confused. The short circuit current is defined as the current across the solar cell when there is zero potential difference across the cell. At this point the short circuit current is equal to the light current. What...
  15. H

    How Does Optical Equipment Boost Solar Panel Current?

    So I'm currently working on a project. Among the research questions, the following is one of them. "How can we use optical equipment such as mirrors to increase the output current?" I did some research into it but couldn't find its technical aspect. I know the straightforward fact that the...
  16. M

    Photovoltaic Cell- P-N Junction Necessity

    If you wanted to separate the P and N type semi-conductive layers and place a diode (which contains a P-N junction) between them so that current would still travel in the correct direction, could you? I want to separate them so that I can insulate the N-type layer with a reflective metal. I just...
  17. Chacabucogod

    Photovoltaic and Wind energy Inverter Question

    I have just begun my power electronics class, but have already seen what an inverter is. My question is: is there a difference between the topologies that function with photovoltaic systems and wind energy ones? Thankyou
  18. 1

    Relevant informations about photovoltaic cells

    it's good to aim for something impossible. so... recently, i have a lot of free time (oh, I'm only in my teens), and i would like aim to be someone who makes solar cells cheap and available, that kinda thing i know physics, like general relativity, and some quantum mechanics, recently I'm hooked...
  19. N

    Working of Photovoltaic Device (Solar Cell)

    In the following http://electrons.wikidot.com/solar-cells it mentioned that how and when n-side becomes positive?
  20. G

    Schools Graduate Schools for Photovoltaic Research

    Hello! First post on Physics Forums. I am a rising junior majoring in physics at a small liberal arts college. I'm very interested in renewable energy, and this summer I've been introduced to a bit of research in this area. I'm working with a semiconductor material and characterizing thermal...
  21. E

    Powering a laser partially with Photovoltaic Cell

    Hello, I am working on a system where a laser does something and then there is a lot of wasted laser radiation. I want to capture this waste radiation in a small array of solar cells then feed the resulting current back into the laser to make it more efficient. The output from the solar cells...
  22. E

    Photovoltaic systems to work at much lower energies

    Ordinary photovoltaics work by depleting phosphorus un boron doped silicon in eatch other and creating a permenant electric field, which then separates any pair of hole and electron induced to the conducting band by a incoming photon, creating an aditional elekctric potential difference, which...
  23. E

    How does a photovoltaic cell convert light into electricity?

    i'm very interested in learning about photovoltaic cells, I've read in some sites already but they all describe it in very general way, can anyone tell me on detail how does it work? thanks
  24. F

    Control of grid connected photovoltaic system

    Hi guys, I am doing a final year project this semester on the above topic. I wanted to know whether to implement hardware or using software like Matlab. Thanks in advance.
  25. C

    Light bulb & photovoltaic cell & power transformer combo for FREE energy

    Does anyone think that it's possible to have a perpetual motion machine electricity generation of a combo of a light bulb shining light on photovoltaic cells that are connected to power increase transformer coils to power that light bulb? I suppose there would have to be some kind of way to...
  26. I

    How Is a Photovoltaic Cell Produced?

    Homework Statement Can someone give me an answer to the problem stated below I'm rather quite new to the area of solar... "Outline the process of producing the photovoltaic cell?" Thank You very much for answering!
  27. I

    Can someone tell me what's wrong with my photovoltaic cell fill factor?

    Homework Statement A 12V photovoltaic cell receives solar irradiance of 200W/cm^2. Measurement show that the photovoltaic cell has an open-circuit of 0.6V, short-circuit current of 3A, and the photovoltaic cell maximum current is 80% of the short-circuit current. The efficiency of the...
  28. L

    Can photovoltaic cells capture gamma photons?

    I am by no means well versed in nuclear power, but from my limited exposure I have gathered that a very large portion of nuclear energy (and antimatter) is expressed in high energy gamma radiation. All forms of electromagnetic radiation are expressed as photons, correct? Taking the concept of...
  29. A

    Optimum photovoltaic panel inclination

    Hi Does anyone know any good reading sources that help with the following calculations: 1) find the optimum photovoltaic inclination from the horizontal 2) find the radiation for this pv panel when you know what the global, direct and diffuse radiation is Thanks
  30. A

    Converting a laser beam to electricity with photovoltaic cells

    Hi, I'm new to this forum so please don't get mad if this post is in the wrong place. I have a laser beam pointed at a solar panel (regular PV cells) and the current comes out as expected on my oscilloscope (small waves varying like pulses between 0.45 and 0.50 V regularly). I tried...
  31. B

    Efficiency of latest photovoltaic panels

    What is the efficiency of the latest photovoltaic panels and also wind turbines? I read in an article that the highest efficiency reached by photovoltaic panels was around 40%, which seems to be very very high.
  32. D

    Semiconductors mostly with respect to photovoltaic cells

    Hi, I was just doing some reading on semiconductors mostly with respect to photovoltaic cells. I understand that doping silicon with Boron and Phosphorus creates a good semiconductor because the extra electrons from the phosphorus jump over to the 'holes' provided by boron, and then creating...
  33. S

    Design of Photovoltaic pumping system

    Hi all. I am doing a project where I have to design a photovoltaic water pumping system that can be used for applications like water irrigation and borehole water extraction.Right now I am doing my research and the issues that are the most pertinent are the following:1)hybrid systems,2) making...
  34. H

    Questions about getting into the Photovoltaic industry

    Hello to all and thank you for reading this post:cool: I graduated with a B.S. in physics from Texas State Univ.(2008) not to be confused with Univ. of Texas. Anyways, I have looked for jobs and most of it points to the oil industry, which I do not really want to end up in. I am really...
  35. R

    What degree should I pursue to research Photovoltaic solar panels?

    One day i would like to work on improving and designing Photovoltaic solar panels. I was wondering which degree in university is generally took, if one wants to research in solar panels. I for sure know that mechanical engineers research with thermal solar panels, but what about voltaics? thanks
  36. J

    Solve PV Module Problem: Find I,V,P for 3 Conditions

    Im working on a problem that involves a PV module consisting of 40 cells each at .5 volts. The problem models the module as having all 40 cells in series. The PV module is connected to a 5 ohm load. The problem also says to assume that the same current and voltage flows through the PV module...
  37. C

    Open curcuit voltage of photovoltaic devices

    I have some questions about the open circuit voltage of the photodiodes. Physically, what is the origin of the open circuit voltage? In the book "Physics of Solar cells": the open circuit voltage Voc defines the difference between the Fermi energies at which the total recombination rate in...
  38. T

    What's actually happening in the photovoltaic effect

    The standard conception of the photovoltaic/photoelectric effect is that photons are absorbed by the receiving medium, knocking loose electrons, which form a current away from the receiving medium. However, it seems that this can't be what is actually happening because solar panels, for...
  39. B

    Explaining Photovoltaic Effect in Layman Terms

    Can someone here please explain in layman terms this process of turning sunlight into electricity? Thanks. .
  40. V

    I-V Characteristics of Photovoltaic cells

    Hi, could someone care to explain two things: 1) Whats happens when the resistance load of a circuit powered by a PV cell generates a higher voltage then that produced by the PV cell (does band gap get affected). 2) Why does current drop near the Open Circuit Voltage? Surely the generation...
  41. A

    Can Different Color Combinations Affect the Power Output of a Photovoltaic Cell?

    I am considering writing a formal essay on the photovoltaic effect, and I wanted to investigate the power or voltage output (I'm not sure which one yet) of a photovoltaic cell with respect to different color combination. Would anyone be kind enough to let me Know whether this will work, and...
  42. N

    Photovoltaic cell as an on/off switch - circuit help

    Photovoltaic cell as an "on/off" switch - circuit help Hi all, My first post here. I'm a Mechanical Engineer prodding my finger where it shouldn't be - circuits! I need help and I am hoping you folks can. PLEASE excuse the umb terminology - I don't know this world well! I want to turn a...
  43. M

    Photovoltaic and Superconductivity

    My question deals with experimentation in combining these two technologies. I think it would be a good duo, since PV's are so inefficient, and superconductivity is so efficient. I would like to know if people agree or disagree (and why), where I could find useful information on this topic...
  44. N

    Is the MATLAB Emulation of Grid-Connected Photovoltaic Accurate?

    I'm working on this subject. I'm trying to make a MATLAB emulation on this subject. In tha attached pdf I have the equations and the MATLAB code. You think that the graphs below are correct. You think that the current graph shouldn't be "negative". I will be glad to see your comments.
  45. W

    Fill factor of a photovoltaic cell

    I basically want to identify the fill-factor of a photo voltaic cell by calculating the ratio of maximum power (Vmp x Jmp) divided by the short-circuit current (Isc) and open-circuit voltage (Voc) in light current density. 1. How am i suppose to set up the circuit, should a voltmeter be...
  46. T

    Photovoltaic cell - relationship between wavelength and intensity of Light

    Hi all, i am relative new here and i have an enquiry which i really wish to see if anyone can help me out with this. From my understanding, photovoltaic cell works by using photons from light to generate eletricity. From what i know is that the lower the wavelength of light, the higher is the...
  47. B

    Photovoltaic Physics Course Resources for Undergrads

    i am constructing a course for undergrad. year 1 student and it is about photovoltaic physics. Does anyone can recommend some website for me? it better have some animation and good picture, also java applet. For example, one photon strike on a solar cell, and then a electron bound out from it...
  48. D

    Light and Mass: Exploring the Photovoltaic Effect

    I am a lower sixth student and i got into an argument with my physics teacher today when we were talking about the photovoltec effect and he said that light has no mass. I have a very small understanding of the subject compared to him but from what i do understand the uncertainty principle...
  49. X

    Solar Panel Efficiency: 13.1% Electric, 86.9% Thermal

    Would it be safe to say that the energy not converted to electricity by a photovolatic panel is lost as thermal energy. Therefore if a solar panel has a 13.1 % efficiency at converting photons into electric energy then 86.9% is loss as thermal energy.
  50. X

    Calculating Heat Transfer of Photovoltaic Panels

    I am doing a photovoltaic experiment and I wanted to know if anyone knew the heat transfer value of a photovoltaic panel or how to calculate it.