7.2.3 Photovoltaic Systems

7.2.3.1 Photovoltaic Cells

The photovoltaic cell was discovered at the end of the 1800s and evolved into a mass-produced commercial product—the PV-array—during the last half of the twentieth century. The main drive for development of photovoltaic arrays was their application to powering satellites. The cost of PV-arrays has dropped 250 times the cost at their first commercial application period in the early 1950s to the current price of around 60¢/W.

PV-arrays consist of a number of silicon wafers that form a p–n junction. When illuminated, the energy of light transforms into movement of electrons which can generate an electric current though an external circuit, thus transferring power. Two main semiconductor technologies ...

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