Three different approaches are typically deployed to harness solar potential. One is solar thermal, where consumers harness solar energy directly for space and water heating. Another method is solar photovoltaic (PV) panels that produce electrical energy using photons to make electrons. The final method is concentrated solar power, where producers use solar energy to create steam that then generates electricity. Solar energy harnesses a fuel that is free, domestic, renewable, and inexhaustible.
The chart below shows month-to-month electricity production. The sun shines most in the summer and in the afternoons during times when demand is high. Therefore, production peaks in July. By November, production is at its lowest. What other conclusions can you draw from the data? Can you identify the seasons based on the production numbers? Select the different times to view the data in different time increments.
Behind the technology
Solar panels are made by photovoltaic cells which collect solar energy and convert the energy from the sun into electrical energy. These cells are made of silicon and are installed in a direction where maximum sunlight can be received. The energy from sunlight knocks electrons free, which are then collected by conductive plates that transfer the electrons into a current through connected wires.
The provided graph is an example of solar power generated by a North Texas independent school district.Ready for a QUIZ?