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Solar panels convert the sun’s light in to usable solar energy using N-type and P-type semiconductor material. When sunlight is absorbed by these materials, the solar energy knocks electrons loose from their atoms, allowing the electrons to flow through the material to produce electricity. This process of converting light (photons) to electricity (voltage) is called the photovoltaic (PV) effect.
Currently solar panels convert most of the visible light spectrum and about half of the ultraviolet and infrared light spectrum to usable solar energy. Solar energy technologies use the sun’s energy and light to provide heat, light, hot water, electricity, and even cooling, for agriculture and industry.
There are a variety of technologies that have been developed to take advantage of solar energy.