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The Science Behind Solar Panels

Solar power or solar energy is quickly becoming an inexpensive renewable resource. However, how do solar panels necessarily work and what are the benefits of switching from grid power to solar power?

The Science Behind Solar Panels

Solar energy is an ingenious discovery made in 1839 by Alexandre Edmon Becquerel. Essentially, the sun emits radiation that can be harvested and turned into usable energy.

Photovoltaic Effect by Energy Education

Light passes through the top layer of a solar panel. It passes through the second layer of a solar panel and gets negatively charged. Then it flows out through wires to the bottom-most layer of a solar panel.

This constant electron flow is what makes a never-ending electrical current.

Since the energy created by solar panels needs to be used instantly, there’s a way to have the power stored in batteries for later use. This stored power could be used at night or during very cloudy days.

If there is an excess of energy generated from the panels it can then be reverted back into the power grid if the panels are set up into the grid. No energy is wasted.

Infographic by EnergySage

A Few Benefits of Solar Power

  1. This energy source is powered by the sun. An endless supply of energy ensures there won’t be a lack of energy. With that being said, the sun is a pollution-free resource.  
  2. Solar panels have the ability to last 25- 30 years. Making maintenance nearly non-existent.
  3. It’s a clean energy alternative. There are no fossil fuels used or greenhouse gases emitted by the use of the solar panels.
  4. Solar panels are constantly being improved to increase efficiency. A solar panel today could possibly produce double it’s energy in a few months.
  5. Solar is becoming increasingly more inexpensive. According to a study by Lazard in 2017 solar power costs $50 to produce one megawatt-hour of power compared to coal costing $102 to produce one megawatt-hour (that’s the equivalent to about 300 homes using electricity for an hour at the same time).
  6. Monthly electric bill costs will go down. You could potentially make your home go completely off the main electrical grid. There’s a possibility of saving $100s each month (look up Solar Savings Estimator to see how much you can save).  
2017 Cost of Energy by Lazard

With so many wonderful opportunities to becoming electrically independent with solar power, why aren’t more people making the switch?  Installation is still a bit steep. To install solar panels onto the average 4 person family home, it costs up to $25,000. Which isn’t too appealing for most.

However, many companies and countries have made the switch to solar power.

The Solar Switch


Walt Disney World by the New York Times

The Walt Disney World Resort created a 270-acre solar panel farm in April of this year. Consisting of roughly 500,000 panels operating in the shape of giant Mickey Mouse ears. With the number of solar panels in place, Disney has been able to run on 25% of solar energy. Enough energy is produced to operate 2 of its theme parks.


Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL) announced at the beginning of this year their plan to install 30 million solar panels. They’ve estimated by 2030 they’ll be able to reduce their carbon footprint by 67%. FPL has started to accumulate land for these large solar farms all over Florida.


As of last year, Target has been the corporate leader in solar panel installation and energy use. By 2020 they hope to increase the number of buildings using solar panels to 500. According to the company’s website, they currently have 436 locations with rooftop solar installations. The stores with solar panels produce 15-30% of their energy from solar. Besides their solar goal, they hope to become 100% renewable in the long run.

Dazzling the Community with Solar

IDEAS For Us – Orlando is teaming up with the city’s Commissioner, Patty Sheehan, and L.E. Rigby Innovations to pilot a solar training experience on June 15th.

It’s hands-on training in the solar industry by learning how to install photovoltaic (PV) panels on the side of The Lamp & Shade Fair, home to a beautiful Pulse mural in Orlando.

The hope is to light up the mural to remember the 49 victims of the shooting. It’ll be three years since the shooting as of June 12th. Regardless of how much time has passed, we’re still Orlando Strong.  


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