Photovoltaic Cells

By: Chad Everett, Nicole Hamm, Noah Stenzler, Xoey Rinkavage

Concerns for Wildlife/Enviroment

There are a couple concerns for photo voltaic cells in the environment. Concentrating solar energy systems may use hazardous materials like oils and molten salts, creating a chance of disastrous spills. If solar panels are disposed of improperly, they could release hazardous materials that could kill our plants and animals. Solar panels also attract insects. The insects think the solar panels are small pools of water. They fly to the "water" and get trapped. They are trapped until they eventually die. The energy produced from the solar panels vary depending on technology and geography.
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Development of the Technology

The technology began in 1876 when William Grylls Adams and his student, Richard Day, discovered it when selenium was exposed to light, it produced energy. The first selenium cells weren't efficient at all. Then, in 1953, Calvin Fuller, Gerald Pearson, and Daryl Chapin discovered the silicon solar cell. The cell was efficient enough to run small electrical devices. In 1956, the first solar cells were made available commercially. They were $300 dollars for a 1 watt solar cell which was too expensive for most people. 1 watt can not really power anything. It can't charge your phone or even an LED night light, so most people didn't waste their money on it. In the late 1950's and 1960's, satellites in USA's and Soviet's space program were powered by solar cells. Then, by the end of the 1960's, solar power was the standard power for space bound satellites. Then, in the early 1970's, the price was brought down from $100 per watt, to around $20 per watt. In the 1970's to the 1990's, solar cells were showing up on railroad crossings and in remote places to power houses. Today, there are solar powered cars, solar powered aircraft's and even solar shingles.


For an average family, a solar panel on you house would cost about $23,000 if it produces 20-24 kilowatts of energy. This would be enough to produce energy for about a month. It costs the government $3,873 per kilowatt to make solar panels for big government buildings. Sometimes the total cost for a solar panel can be up to 25-30 thousand dollars. The panels themselves cost around $6,500. The price of solar panels has decreased over the years.


When sunlight hits the semi conductor, an electron springs up and is attracted to the negative type semi conductor. This causes more negative electrons in the negative type semi conductor and more positive electrons in the positive type thus generating a flow of electricity in a process known as the photo voltaic effect.