Photovoltaic (PV) technology is a method of converting sunlight into electrical energy. PV materials and devices, also known as cells, play a crucial role in this process. Usually producing around 1 or 2 watts of power, these cells are made of semiconductor materials and are thinner than four human hairs. To ensure durability, they are protected by layers of glass and/or plastics, enabling them to withstand outdoor conditions for many years.
PV cells are linked together in chains to create modules or panels, increasing power output. These modules can be used individually or connected in arrays. By connecting one or more arrays to the electrical grid, a complete PV system is formed. The modular design allows PV systems to be customized to meet various power needs, small or large.
PV modules and arrays are integral components of a PV system. In addition to the modules, the system comprises mounting structures that orient panels towards the sun. It also includes components responsible for converting the direct current (DC) electricity generated by the modules into the alternating-current (AC) electricity required to power household appliances.
California is home to the largest PV systems in the country, generating power for utilities to distribute. The Solar Star PV power station produces a whopping 579 megawatts, while both the Topaz Solar Farm and Desert Sunlight Solar Farm generate an impressive 550 megawatts each.