Add to collection
  • + Create new collection
  • Rights: The Royal Society, TVNZ 7 in partnership with the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology
    Published 15 December 2010 Referencing Hub media

    This is a simple explanation of what solar cells do and how they may be used to provide energy in the future.

    This short animated video from TVNZ demystifies some of the technical language.


    What are solar cells?

    Solar cells convert light from the sun directly into electricity.

    Sunlight is made up of tiny packets of energy called photons. When sunlight hits a solar cell, the photons knock free minute particles called electrons contained inside. As the electrons begin to move about they are 'routed' into a current. This is electricity – the movement of electrons along a path.

    Solar cells – also known as photovoltaic cells – harness sunlight to create electricity in a clean, green, renewable way. Developing this technology could make us less dependent on fossil fuels.

    The cost of using solar energy on a commercial scale has been seen as prohibitive but many hope that advances in photovoltaic technology will help meet our energy needs in years to come.

    And that’s a solar cell.

        Go to full glossary
        Download all