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Joe Stephen Essay

1502 words - 7 pages

1. Introduction
Solar energy provides a safer, more viable and sustainable alternative than current fossil fuel technology for the production of energy for large-scale consumption. Solar energy will be critically analysed, the analysis will include physics concepts behind solar energy, as well as benefits and issues. Why is solar power so needed in the world today? In recent times there has been more awareness of Global warming, an effect of continuous use of fossil fuels. With the continuous use of fossils fuel, oil, gas and coal comes two problems. The main problem with fossil fuels is that there is a limited amount of them and it is non-renewable. At some point we are going to run out, ...view middle of the document...

2.2. Photovoltaic cell using the photoelectric effect
Solar (or photovoltaic) cells convert the sun’s energy into electricity. The photovoltaic cell itself is made out of silicon. Silicon is a semi-conductor material, making it an electrical insulator as well as sharing some properties of metals, which is a key aspect in solar cells. Solar cells rely on the photoelectric effect, the ability of matter to emit electrons when a light is shone onto it. Sunlight contains packets of energy which are called photons, these photons radiate from the sun. As these photons hit the photovoltaic cells, they transfer their energy to loose electrons, knocking them clean off the atoms. After freeing up electrons, these electrons have to be turned into an electric current, for this to happen, an electrical imbalance has to happen within the cell. This imbalance creates a pathway for electrons to flow in the same direction. This imbalance is only made possible by the structure of silicon; silicon is arranged together in a tightly bound structure, called a pure crystalline structure. However, for this too work, small quantities of other elements must be placed to make impure silicon because pure silicon is a poor conductor of electricity because none of its electrons are free to move about. For example, consider silicon with small quantities of phosphorous; two different types of silicon are than created, n-type which stands for negatively charged, which has spare electrons and p-type, which stands for positively charged which are missing electrons. When these two materials are placed side by side inside a solar cell, the n-type silicon’s spare electrons jump over to fill the gaps in the p-type silicon. This means that the n-type silicon becomes positively charged, and the p-type silicon is negatively charged, creating an electric field across the cell. Because silicon is a semi-conductor, it can act like an insulator, maintaining this imbalance. This electric field acts as a diode. A diode allows electricity to flow in one direction only and blocks the flow in the opposite direction. Finally, the electron flow provides the current, and the cell's electric field causes a voltage. With both current and voltage, we have power, which is the product of the two.

2.3. AC Inverter
An inverter is an electrical device that converts direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) In an simple inverter circuit, DC power is connected to a transformer through the centre tap of the primary winding. A transformer is a static device which transforms electrical energy from one circuit to another without any direct electrical connection. A switch is rapidly switched back and forth to allow current to flow back to the DC source following two alternate paths through one end of the primary winding and then the other. The alternation of the direction of current in the primary winding of the transformer produces alternating current (AC) in the secondary circuit. Therefore, it...

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