Photovoltaics is a most elegant energy source. Light shines on a crystal and produces electricity. Its as simple as that. There are no moving parts. The fuel source (sunlight) is free, abundant and widely distributed, available to every country and person in the world. At over 165,000 TW the solar resource dwarfs the world’s current power usage of 16 TW or even our projected future usage of 60 TW.
The many advantages of photovoltaics lend itself to being the ultimate energy source. However, it required the semiconductor revolution and advances in manufacturing before photovoltaics could begin to reveal its full potential.
For the last two decades, photovoltaics has been the fastest growing industry for its size. Continuing at the present growth rate of 40% for the next two decades will allow photovoltaics to be the worlds largest energy source. To keep growing at 40% a year, however, will require that everyone learn a little bit about how photovoltaics works and for today’s engineering students to be conversant in the principles and technologies that will make this growth possible. This site provides casual readers an opportunity to research this new technology and students of physics, engineering, or energy policy the opportunity to deeply explore photovoltaics..
This site is an electronic book on PV. It can either be read from start to finish as a course on photovoltaics or used as a reference. This project started out as an electronic textbook, distributed on CDs and so we have kept the ungainly title of PVCDROM. As the project and the text itself has grown over the years we have added many enhancements unavailable in static textbooks. Be sure to read the instruction page to make sure you have all the appropriate plugins installed and so that you will be aware of all of the features available to learners.
Stuart Bowden and Christiana Honsberg work at the Solar Power Labs at ASU (http://pv.asu.edu/)