Solar energy

 

 

Harnessing solar energy to provide electricity directly involves the use of a sophisticated technology called solar photovoltaics (PV). The photovoltaic effect was first described in 1839 by Edmond Becquerel who observed that the voltage of an early ‘wet cell’ battery increased when its silver plates were exposed to light.

In 1877 Cambridge physicists discovered that selenium crystals created an electrical current when exposed to light. A New Yorl electrician, Charles Edgar Fritts, devised the first working PV cells in 1883, using selenium plates covered in gold wires, but they converted in gold wires, but they converted less than 1% of the incident solar energy into electricity. Since then PV technology has been mainly concerned with improving efficiency, so that today’s solar cells convert up to 25% of incident solar power to electricity


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