Thin-film solar panel is well suited for use as flexible films over existing surfaces or as part of building materials such as roofing tiles.

FREMONT, CA: Photovoltaic power plants turn sunlight into useful electricity by utilizing vast areas of photovoltaic cells, also known as PV or solar cells. These cells are often built of silicon alloys and are the technology most people know; a few people might even have one on their roof.

The panels themselves come in various forms including:

Crystalline Solar Panels: These panels are made of crystalline silicon, as the name implies. They might be monocrystalline or polycrystalline in nature (also called multi-crystalline). Monocrystalline versions are often more efficient (about 20 percent or higher) but more expensive than their alternatives (typically 15-17 percent efficient); however, advances gradually decrease the gap between them.

Thin-Film Solar Panels: These panels are made up of a succession of thin sheets that absorb light from various sections of the electromagnetic spectrum. Amorphous silicon (a-Si), cadmium telluride (CdTe), cadmium sulfide (CdS), and copper indium (gallium) diselenide are the most common materials used. This type of panel is well suited for use as flexible films over existing surfaces or as part of building materials such as roofing tiles.

Solar panels of this type generate electricity, which is usually sent directly into the national grid or stored in batteries.

Working of a Solar PV Power Plant

Solar PV power plants work in the same way that small-scale PV panels do at home. Majority of solar PV panels are made of semiconductor materials, most often silicon. When photons from the sun strike a semiconductor material, free electrons are produced, which can then flow through the substance to produce an electrical current. The photoelectric effect is the name for this phenomenon. Before it can be immediately consumed or fed into the electrical grid, the DC current must first be converted to Alternating Current (AC) using an inverter.

PV panels differ from other solar power plants in a way that they directly utilize the photoelectric effect, eliminating the need for additional processes or devices. For example, unlike solar thermal plants, they do not require a liquid heat-carrying medium like water. PV panels do not concentrate energy; instead, they transform photons into electricity, which is subsequently sent to another location.