Asked by: Liam Farmer, Birmingham
Surprisingly, they perform worse as the temperature rises! Solar panels work by using incoming photons to excite electrons in a semiconductor to a higher energy level. But the hotter the panel is, the greater the number of electrons that are already in the excited state. This reduces the voltage that the panel can generate and lowers its efficiency.
Higher temperatures also increase the electrical resistance of the circuits that convert the photovoltaic charge into AC electricity. Modern hybrid solar panels are designed to suffer less from the heat, but they can still lose 10 per cent of their rated efficiency on hot days.
- Can solar panels be recycled?
- The thought experiment: Which generates more electricity, running on a treadmill or wearing solar panels?