This animation shows how photovoltaic panels and their solar cells capture sunlight's energy and create electricity. Sunlight is made up of tiny energy packets called photons. Every minute enough of this energy reaches the earth to meet a year's worth of the earth's energy needs. Photovoltaic panels consist of many solar cells, made of materials like silicon, a commonly available element. Solar cells are designed to free electrons from absorbed photons with a positive and a negative layer that create an electric field, just like in a battery. Photovoltaic panels can be designed to meet specific energy needs.