Photovoltaic cells are those black squares on a solar panel. These have been the most expensive parts of a solar panel, making solar panels beyond the reach of most folks, but now at last, the prices have recently dropped, making solar panels a more affordable means of alternative energy.

These cells are not only becoming less expensive, but also more efficient, thanks to increasingly better designs, which allow them to focus the gathered sunlight on a more and more concentrated point.

The size of the cells is also decreasing, as their efficiency rises, meaning that each cell becomes cheaper and more rewarding to manufacture. The cost of producing solar generated energy, per watt hour, has come down to around $4.00, at the time of writing. Just 17 years ago, it was almost double that figure.

Solar powered electricity generation is certainly good for the environment, as this alternative form of producing energy gives off absolutely zero emissions into the atmosphere and is merely utilizing one of nature's abundant resources as its driver.

Solar collection cells are definitely becoming more practical and attractive to homeowners to install on their rooftops. A solar heating system is not difficult to use for heating one's home, creating hot water, or producing electricity. In the case of using the photovoltaic cells of a solar panel for hot water generation, the system works by having the water encased in the cells, where it is heated by the sun and then delivered through the water pipes.

Photovoltaic cells are becoming increasingly better at collecting sufficient radiation from the sun, even on overcast or stormy days. One company in particular, Uni-Solar, has developed solar collection panel arrays, for home use, that work well on inclement days, by way of a technologically advanced system, that stores more energy at one time during sunlit days, than previously possible.

There is also another solar power system available for home use, called the PV System. The PV System is connected to the nearest electrical grid and whenever there is an excess of solar energy collected at a particular home, it is transferred to the grid, for shared use and as a means of lowering the grid's dependence on the hydro-electrically driven electricity production.

Being connected to the PV System can keep your costs down, as compared to fully fledged solar energy, while immediately reducing pollution and relieving strain on the normal grid system. Some areas are designing centralized, multiple solar collection schemes for smaller towns and suburban communities.

Some big name corporations have made commitments to get involved in using solar power usage. This is a further indication that solar generated energy is becoming an economically viable alternative energy source.

Google is putting in a  1.6 megawatt solar power generation plant on the roof of its corporate headquarters, while Wal-Mart wants to put in an enormous 100 megawatt system of it's own.

Nations such as Japan, Germany, the United States and Switzerland have been advocating the use of solar energy production, by providing government subsidies or by giving tax breaks to companies and individuals who agree to utilize solar power for generating their heat or electrical power.

As technology advances and a greater storage of solar collection materials is made available, more and more private investors will see the benefits of investing in this “green” technology and further conversions of homes to solar heating is likely.

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Derek Robson has been a successful Internet marketer since 2003. He is a retired engineer and a syndicated article writer. He is concerned about the rise in prices of electricity and fuel and is trying to make his house and life as green as possible. Derek has recently entered into the niche of alternative energy, so keep tuned as to what he finds, by visiting his AltPower website and blog. Go get a free PLR pack on Alternative Fuels. Click here, or copy this link: