Solar photovoltaic technology (SPV) is primarily a semiconductor-based technology in which sunlight is converted into solar electricity. A basic PV system is made of PV modules and the balance of systems (BOS). Balance of systems includes support structure, wiring, storage, power electronics, etc.

Components of PV system
A PV system consists of the following components.
1 PV panels (also known as solar panels)
2 Battery
3 Charge controller
4 Inverter/converter
5 Mounting structure and tracking device
6 Interconnections and other devices

The solar power cells consist of ultra-pure silicon which via selective doping receives the characteristics of a semiconductor. When sunlight shines on the surface of the solar cell a potential difference develops between the upper and lower sides of the cell. When the two sides of the solar cell are connected with each other, electricity flows and the cell produces power.

To generate the desired voltage several cells are connected in series; the desired current is achieved by connecting the cells in parallel. The sum of the solar modules in an installation makes up the PV generator.

Photovoltaics over the years

In 1839, the physicist Edmund Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect: the direct conversion of light into electricity

The breakthrough in solar research came in 1960s with the spacecraft. It required an ultra-reliable, autonomous, lightweight supply of energy leading to the solar sails
Solar energy came into use in daily life with small applications such as solar-powered pocket calculators which no longer needed a battery

In the 1980s solar power plants first came into use – primarily in the USA – as an autonomous source of energy for remote houses

In the 1990s, government sponsorship programmes provided a further boost for demand in a few key countries