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Photovoltaics UPSC NOTE

 Why in news

  • In photovoltaics , the study of conversion of light energy into electrical energy.

  • The Shockley-Queisser limit is a theoretical concept that defines the maximum capacity of a solar cell to produce electricity.

  • The Sun is the primary source of light and energy on the earth. 

  • Photovoltaic devices like solar cells allow us to harness this energy. 

  • Photovoltaic cells are made of semiconducting materials like (doped) silicon

  • When sunlight interacts with a semiconductor, it excites electrons from the lower-energy valence band to the higher-energy conduction band.

ShockleyQueisser limit

  • We know that the efficiency with which a solar cell can produce an electric current when sunlight is incident on it can’t be 100% because some light particles (photons) pass through the material without interacting with it.

  • Some energy simply heats up the material without exciting the electrons (thermalisation, around 30%). 

  • As a result, the maximum efficiency of a conventional solar cell is confined, and this range is called the Shockley-Queisser limit

  • It is named after the physicists William Shockley (of the U.S.) and Hans-Joachim Queisser (Germany).

What is Photovoltaics?

  • Photovoltaics refers to the technology of converting light energy directly into electricity.

  • Core principle: Photovoltaics utilizes the photovoltaic effect, a phenomenon where certain materials, like semiconductors, absorb sunlight and release electrons

  • These freed electrons can then be directed to flow through a circuit, generating electricity.

  • Components: The basic building block of PV technology is the solar cell.

  • Solar cells: These are small units made from specialized semiconductor materials

  • When sunlight hits the cell, the photovoltaic effect occurs, producing a small amount of electricity (typically 1-2 watts per cell).

  • Solar panels: Multiple solar cells are wired together to form larger units called modules or panels. 

  • This increases the overall electricity generation capacity.


  • Solar power generation: Photovoltaic panels are most commonly used in solar power systems. These systems can be:

    • Grid-connected: Generate electricity that feeds into the power grid.

    • Stand-alone: Power individual homes, businesses, or remote locations.

  • Other applications: PV technology also finds uses in:

    • Calculators and small electronics: Powering small devices.

    • Road signs: Providing electricity for lights and displays.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Photovoltaics UPSC NOTE
Photovoltaics UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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