Avnet Electronics Marketing Americas has published a white paper. The free technical article details ways to maximize energy output from solar modules, as well as ways to size a solar panel for a specific application. The information presented in this paper will assist engineers in taking the first steps to rapidly and successfully develop products that use PV solar to charge batteries. The white paper is titled, Fundamentals of Photovoltaic Solar Technology for Battery Powered Applications.
Fundamentals of Photovoltaic Solar Technology for Battery Powered Applications
Solar is a natural energy source for many battery powered applications. With energy harvested from the sun, the size of batteries can be reduced, or the battery life of a system can be extended. All that’s needed is a solar module, right? Is it really that simple? Let’s take a look at what’s possible in photovoltaic (PV) solar powered applications.
In its simplest form, a solar cell is essentially a specialized p-n junction, a type of diode. When direct sunlight or indirect light is applied to the cell, photons strike the cell and collide with electrons. When electrons are impacted with enough energy, they can be elevated from the valence band to the conduction band, and when swept across the semiconductor junction, an electric current is produced. Multiple PV technologies are used to create solar cells — crystalline silicon cells have been used for decades. Thin film solar materials are amorphous silicon, cadmium telluride (CdTe) and copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS). Each technology has different efficiency, performance characteristics and cost. One unique feature of solar modules is that they are sensitive to temperature. Generally, the higher the temperature, the lower the power output. In addition, solar cells degrade over time, on the order of 20 percent over the course of 20 years.