The nature of material to convert light into energy was discovered by Becquerel in the year 1839. But only by the year 1958, were solar cells used practically in rockets.
It made no sense to use solar cells for any other conventional application at that stage as the prices were outrageous at $1000/Watt ! Solar Photovoltaics was only taken as a serious energy resource after the 1973 oil crisis, when the prices of crude oil shot up astronomically & countries realized the importance to find an alternate source of energy.
Photovoltaic Solar Energy is the conversion of sunlight into electricity. This conversion takes place via chemical processes through a solar cell.
Photovoltaic Process Explained
When a group of solar cells are connected together, a solar panel/solar module is formed. Depending on the number and size of cells, the voltage and current from a panel can be determined. Combining various modules together gives rise to an array.
Solar cells form modules, modules form arrays
Advantages of Solar Photovoltaics
The privilege of modularity has made the solar photovoltaic technology a champion of power generation today. How? Solar Power Plants are propping up around the globe, supplying Gigawatts of electricity every passing day to our households and industries. At the same time, off-grid rural areas around the world (Example: parts of India and Africa), where grid connectivity was a distant reality have well light households today as a single solar panel of 40Watts on a rooftop can practically run all the basic appliances a household desires without relying on any grid !
Diesel Generators which are used as power backup solutions even today, guzzling litres of diesel are slowly giving way to solar inverter based solutions, which might look expensive as an initial investment, but have a quick payback & are definitely a smarter investment. The solar photovoltaic technology has spread its wings into water pumping, street lighting, desalination and also battery powered vehicles!