The planned solar farm at BNL will use the most common type of solar panel, photovoltaic cells made from crystalline silicon. Here's how it works:
Photovoltaic systems use semiconducting materials, such as silicon, that release small amounts of electricity when exposed to sunlight.
When particles of solar energy known as photons strike a PV cell, some are absorbed.
Energy from the absorbed photons is transferred to electrons in the silicon atoms. That shakes them loose and generates an electrical current.
Inverters attached to the solar panels transform that direct current to alternating current, the type of electricity normally used in homes and businesses.
SOURCE: BP Solar, the federal Department of Energy