Last updated: July 17. 2013 2:42PM - 940 Views
By JULIA ROBERTS GOAD STAFF WRITER



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Power from a rock.
That is how Ben Santarris describes the process his company, Solarworld, uses to transform sunlight into electricity.
Solarworld manufactured the solar panels used in a project that was the joint effort of the City of Williamson, Dr. Donovan Beckett and the JOBS project.
Santarris spoke at the Williamson Fire Department to explain how those panels harness the power of the sun.
The science involved is fairly new. Pioneering relativity theorist Albert Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1905 for his discovery of exactly how light caused waht was then called the photoelectric effect essentially photovoltaics, getting electricity from light.
The company uses silicon, melting it until it forms a white-hot liquid, the re-fuses the molten silicon into a giant crystal in which all atoms are perfectly aligned in a desired structure and orientation.
The silicon crystal changes shape several more times, becoming the precisely calibrated wafers that form the foundation of photo-voltaic cells. The wafer is the main building block of a PV cell, but at this point of production, its only notable characteristics are its crystal structure and positive potential orientation.
After the crystals are changed into wafer form comes the final step of assembly, moduling. The cells are soldered together, into strings that are laid out to form a rectangular matrix of 60 cells, and laminated onto glass.
Under the sun, a photovoltaic cell acts as a photosensitive diode. that instantaneously coverts light, but not heat, into electricity.
PV technology is extending beyond rooftops into locations that have never known the benefits of electricity. As on-grid applications bring cleaner power to wired homes, so do off-grid systems empower those without electric refrigeration and lighting.
The sun emits so much energy that solar experts compete to put the output in terms we can grasp. Heres one: Earth receives enough solar radiation in an hours to supple the planets electrical needs for a year.
Frank Asbeck said renewable energy is the solution for environmental problems such as climate change.
Sustainable development is designed to lead to a situation where present generations can satusfy their own needs without jeopardizing the potential needs of future generations, Asbeck said.
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