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  • Writer's pictureOG2 Lighting

How solar panels work and how to optimise their performance...

To protect the future of the environment and the industry, there is a need to find zero or low-carbon solutions for all areas of the built environment.

Solar lighting in its own right continues to be of substantial interest to the street lighting community to meet these sustainability goals. The application of solar street lighting has been in place for some time and there are a large range of options currently available. But to truly embrace the science and understand the different parameters that make up a successful installation is the key to success.

As technology advances rapidly in both energy conversation and energy storage, there are important considerations to make when it comes to optimising solar energy.

How do solar panels work?

Solar energy is produced through solar panels, made from photovoltaic cells which convert the sun’s energy into electricity.

Photovoltaic cells are located between layers of silicon, and when the sun shines onto a panel, energy from the sunlight is absorbed by the cells. This creates an electrical field, known as the photoelectric effect, which produces the current of electricity.

This current is passed through an inverter and can be used to power homes businesses and much more.

The advantages of solar energy...

Solar energy is a far more sustainable energy source as it produces electricity from natural sunlight without the use of fossil fuels or other limited natural materials.

There is a significant reduction in carbon emissions from the process of solar energy compared to fossil fuels. No noise pollution is created, and no toxic fumes are emitted from the panels into the environment. This makes solar panels a safe and sustainable energy source that can be installed in a wide range of both urban and rural locations.

How to enhance solar energy...

Silicon is the most common semiconductor material used in solar panels, yet this material can only absorb a portion of photons. There is a maximum efficiency potential called the S-Q limit (ShockleyQueisser) of a single-junction solar cell, which is around 30%. The majority of solar panels used today are ‘passive emitter rear cell’ (PERC) construction and have an efficiency of around 20%-23%.

Halide perovskite (PVSK) is an alternative solar cell material with a different bandgap. Development has been ramping up to combine these two materials, silicon and PVSK, to increase the combined efficiency to over 45% utilising a greater energy spectrum.

One of the key advantages of perovskite is that it works well under low-light conditions. Currently, this material is not in commercial production, however, the UK is leading the way with this new technology and the first megawatt of production is well in progress.

The future developments of solar...

Another development and innovation in solar cell technology is ‘thin film’ materials used for flexible cells; cadmium telluride (CdTe) or copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS).

The next generation when it comes to solar cell technology is nano-structured semiconductors, amorphous silicon, and printable solar panels.

The advantages of these technologies is in their potential for low-cost production and novel new applications; however, life expectancy will play a key role in their adoption.

One company leading the charge in this field is OG2 Lighting, a designer, manufacturer and installer of solar solutions.

OG2 have developed a product range that will change the direction of residential, amenity and street lighting for a wide range of applications.

Discover more about OG2’s solar solutions here >

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