How soon will our fossil fuels run out? Some experts say – in fifty years. Some say hundred. However that is not the problem. Scientists tell us that long before we run out fossil fuels like oil and coal, the earth will run out of the ability to withstand the use of fossil fuels.
Yes, since man learnt to use coil and oil for his use and especially in the last five decades or so, pollution caused by fossil fuels has been steadily destroying our environment. It has come to such a pass that the very air we breathe reeks of poison and global warming is a clear and present danger.
SOLAR ENERGY: THE HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
What we often forget is that the ultimate source of most of the energy used in the world today is the sun. in fact, the fossil fuels too are nothing but nature’s own way to storing and then using Solar Energy.
So, if only there was a way to convert sunlight into energy. Energy that can not be used in different forms but is environmental friendly as well. That is where Solar PVs come in.
SOLAR PHOTO VOLTAIC: ENERGIZING THE FUTURE
Solar Photo Voltaics are extremely simple devices that convert the direct sunlight that falls into its panels into pure electricity. Let us see what this means.
100% RENEWABLE: The sun is shining down on us for billions of years. And it will continue to do so for billions more. There is very little chance that we will use up our share of sunlight in the near future.
CLEAN: No toxic pollutants, no emissions. Solar energy is as environmental friendly as they come.
EVOLVING: There has been very little development in fuel burning technology in the last decade or two. In the same time solar energy technology has grown by leaps and bounds. As you are reading this, solar energy is becoming cheaper and more efficient.
INEXPENSIVE: True, initial installation costs are high. However, as international oil prices continue to rise, solar energy will prove to be a more affordable option in the long run.
THE FUTURE IS SOLAR
In 2014, the world was producing the 17.7 Giga Watts of power. This is approximately equal to 1% of the world’s energy production. Doesn’t seem a lot? Well, think again. Even one percent is huge considering that solar energy technology is so nascent. The future has more potential the rest of us can even imagine.
SOLAR PV MANUFACTURING
The key to producing solar energy are the photo voltaic cells. Recent advances in Solar Energt has been advances in Photo Voltaics and their manufacturing. Let’s have a look at how these Photo Voltaics are produced.
GETTING THE SILICON
The most commonly used material for Solar PVs is Silicon. Thankfully we have silicon in plenty available around the planet. Yes, sand, simple sand is mostly silicates.
The first step in the manufacturing of the photo voltaics is in isolating the silicon.
Quartz or gravel is crushed and then placed in a furnace. Here they are exposed to a carbon arc. This releases the oxygen in the form of carbon dioxide, while molten silicon is left behind.
The silicon thus obtained needs to purified further before it can be used to produce photo voltaics. This is done by using the floating zone technique. A rod of silicon is passed through an extremely hot zone in the same direction. After several times, the impurities collect towards one end of the rod.
MAKING THE CRYSTAL
Next comes the tricky part. How to create polycrystals – large structures that all the properties of a single crystal. This is done by immersing a single crystal of silicon into molten silicon. As the seed crystal is rotated, it collects more silicon within itself and a boule of silicon is formed.
CUTTING THE WAFERS
The boule is then sliced wafer thin using a circular saw to create silicon wafers. Sometimes the wafers are cut in rectangular or hexagonal shapes.
The silicon wafers are heated almost to melting point. At this point, they are exposed to boron or phosphorous gas. The gas is absorbed into the body of the silicon wafers. This is called doping.
ANTI REFLECTIVE COATING
Silicon is shiny and is likely to reflect most of the sunlight that will fall on it. This can lead to a great loss in energy available for electricity production. An anti reflective coating therefore is added to it.
The silicon is then sealed with silicon rubber or an acetate. And the Photo Voltaic is ready.
CREATING THE SOLAR REVOLUTION
The more electricity that we use from solar energy, the less we depend on fossil fuels, reducing the pressure on the country’s economy as well the environment. In the future, solar energy is therefore sure too play a crucial part of everyone’s lives.