Solar power and how it works
Western Australians are big fans of solar - about 20 per cent have solar panels on their roof - but do you know how they work?
The panels are made up of photovoltaic cells, sometimes just referred to as PV.
When sunlight hits the semiconductors on the panels, it excites the electrons and makes them move.
This movement of electrons in a circuit produces direct current (DC) electricity.
The DC electricity is sent from the panel to an inverter which changes the power to alternating current (AC) that can be used by appliances in homes and businesses.
Solar panels make generating our own power a reality.
This type of power generation is ‘decentralised’, meaning it is located close to where the power is used, rather than being far away and requiring a lot of poles and wires to deliver the supply.
Other forms of electricity such as coal-powered turbines, wind and wave power are centralised and require transmission lines to deliver the bulk energy to local substations, which then distribute to households.
Households with solar panels can generate their own power and feed excess electricity back into the grid.