How Are Solar Panels Made?

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Its Composition Will Surprise You

Are you wondering what and howthose black or blue, sleek, and low-profiled designed modern solar panels are made?

Solar panels harness energy from the sunlight to convert it into electricity. Residences, communities, businesses, industries, and power plants are benefiting from the power of the sun. Therefore, the global demand for the production of solar panels is growing.

Going green means getting off the grid, decreasing utility expenses, avoiding electricity loss, and enjoying cost-efficient electricity. More importantly, it is sustainable and clean, which reduces the carbon footprint. Besides, solar panels can last for about 25 years.

 

It makes you wonder how these eco-energy panels are put together. Here are the materials and a simple guide about the process of making solar panels.

What Makes a Solar Panel?

The building block of solar panels is pure silicon. It is the core ingredient that will be processed and manufactured to create photovoltaic (PV) cells. The Earth’s crust has about 28% silicon, making it the second-most abundant element in the crust next to oxygen. It is different from silicone, which is an artificial substance.

The other materials that compose a solar panel include the metal frame, glass sheet, wires, and plexiglass.

Going back to silicon, take note that pure silicon is not available readily. It comes from mined quartz or silicon dioxide. And this is where the process begins.

How are Solar Panels Made?

1. Produce silicon from quartz.

Silicon dioxide goes through a complicated manufacturing process. A scorching furnace melts down the quartz, releases oxygen, and extracts molten silicon.

The process continues with the purification by continuously passing a rod of impure silicon through a heated zone several times. This method drags all the impurities with it until pure, molten silicon is left.

2. Create silicon ingots.

Since pure silicon is an insulator, it undergoes “doping” to turn it into a semiconductor. Doping is an intricate process of applying an electrical charge to each side of the silicon wafer. This process enables the photovoltaic process and electricity production from the solar panels. It is also infused with supportive elements, such as boron or gallium to give it a positive charge. The negative charge will be added later.

When silicon cools down, it forms a cylindrical shape block of metal called a silicon ingot. One or multiple crystals are blended, which make up the types of solar panels.

3. Cut the ingots into wafers.

The cooled silicon ingots are sliced into discs or paper-thin wafers using a circular saw. The silicon wafers are cut down as thin as possible to reduce waste and increase production efficiencies.

The silicon ingots are polished to remove saw marks and produce smooth and flat sides.

4. Convert a wafer into a solar cell.

Once the solar wafers are ready, it is time to infuse the negative charge. Phosphorus or arsenic are applied as negative charges. These solar wafers become solar cells.

Because pure silicon is shiny, it needs to be treated with an anti-reflective coating such as silicon oxide or titanium dioxide. The coating reduces the amount of sunlight lost and converts light into power. In addition, it creates the matte-look of the solar panel rather than a glossy one and the familiar blackish or bluish hue of the solar panel.

5. Solder solar cells together.

All that is left is to seal a solar cell for protection completely. Silicon rubber is used to enclose the solar cells. 

The solar cells need to be placed on a panel in the proper configuration, shape, and size. The cells are soldered together to the back sheet using metal connectors. This base allows the electricity to transfer between the cells and into the solar inverter. Then, the rest of the process is similar to putting a picture on a picture frame where you just put everything layer by layer.

A sturdy metal frame is added to complete the solar panel. It is essential to use a not-so-heavy, non-corrosive, and robust material. Hence, aluminum is the best fit material for the metal frame. It allows the panel to be set up on roofs, protects it from rainfall and harmful and foreign materials. 

How Can it Protect the Environment if its Production is Harmful?

It may sound conflicting with the advocacy to go green when the production of solar panels leaves carbon footprints. However, according to studies, the overall greenhouse gas emissions in the production of solar panels are significantly lower than coal or natural gas.

In addition, the renewable energy produced by solar panels is still an enormous gain which offsets the energy required to make a panel.

How to Get a Solar Panel Installation in Your Home?

With the incentives and rebates out there and a desire to be a part of the population going green and protecting the future, you can get a solar system installed on your property. Be it a solar panel on a roof, our team at ACES Lyfe is more than happy to help you achieve that!

Deciding on going green is owning a power source and saving expenses from paying your bill. You also get to protect your home and family now. Get a free solar quote today; we will be your trusted partner in your investment.