Photovoltaic Energy Could Be the Answer

Photovoltaic energy comes directly from sunlight. It is electrical energy converted through a device called a solar cell. The majority of solar cells produced today are made from silicone in the form of thin slices or layers in a kind of film. The layer of silicone is spread on to a large, usually square shaped flat surface that faces the sun. There is usually a rotating mechanism that is geared in such a way that it follows the sun's apparent path across the daytime sky.

Photovoltaic energy is a great hope as a future energy source to eventually replace fossil fuels. There is a theory that man-made carbon emissions in particular are causing global temperatures to increase significantly. This means therefore that a change from the use and dependency on fossil fuels is desirable, and moving over to an energy source that does not emit carbon dioxide, exacerbating the global temperature increase problem, is certainly a very good idea. Photovoltaic energy could be the answer.

Man has long since pondered on how to capture the heat effects of the sun and put it to good use. Jonathan Swift in his famous book, Gulliver's Travels, has a scientist working on the problem of "extracting sunbeams from cucumbers." The extracted sunbeams were then to be "...put into Vials hermetically sealed and let out to warm the Air in inclement Summers." The idea almost seems reasonable at first glance, but using photovoltaic energy works much better.

The efficiency of photovoltaic energy is much less than most people imagine. Only around 10 percent to 17 percent of the sunlight and solar heat falling on the solar cells can currently be converted into electrical energy. The solar cells are also quite expensive to produce and set up, but once this has been done there is little maintenance needed. Also, if the photovoltaic solar cells are arranged in a place that receives a lot of sunlight in an average year, the energy returned is really quite substantial and well worth doing.

Photovoltaic energy research is progressing, and organic solar cells are being designed that use an organic dye coated on the cell surface. These cells could most likely be mass produced at a relatively low cost. Photovoltaic energy is becoming much more efficient through continued research and new developments. One day, and it is hope that day will come soon, photovoltaic energy could replace our dependency on fossil fuels in many areas of our lives.

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