Why is silicon used in making solar panels?

Why is Silicon used in making solar panels?

Almost 90% of the World’s photovoltaic or solar panels are based on some variation of silicon.

Formerly, silicon cells were very expensive. They were affordable to only those who had money to send things to space. Development with time has allowed silicon solar cells to be more affordable.

 

REASONS WHY SILICON IS USED IS MAKING SOLAR CELLS

Solar panels are made up of Solar Photo-voltaic (PV) cells. The working of a solar energy system IS dependent on the efficiency of the photovoltaic cells. These photovoltaic cells are made using silicon. Here are some reasons why Silicon is used:

  1. Silicon is a semiconductor. Semiconductors have properties that fall between that of conductor and insulators. It has an electrical property that makes it conductive in one direction and insulating in the other.
  2. Semiconductors are photosensitive.
  3. Silicon solar cells have recorded an efficiency of over 20%.
  4. When Silicon is doped with impurities like gallium and arsenic atoms, its ability to capture the sun’s energy and convert it to electricity is improved considerably.
  5. Silicon is non-toxic.
  6. Crystalline silicon is a stable material.
  7. Silicon has a band gap of 1.1eV, which is not far from the optimal value of 1.34eV for generating power from sunlight. There are other semiconductors with ideal band gaps such as CdTe – 1.49eV but they are more expensive to produce.
  8. Silicon is the second most abundant element in the earth’s crust after Oxygen.
  9. Silicon is cheap and readily available.

In conclusion, solar cells made from crystalline silicon provide a combination of high efficiency, low cost, and long lifespan. Modules are expected to last for 25 years or more, still producing more than 80% of their original power after this time.

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