How PV Works
"Solar Electricity" is the direct conversion of sunlight into electricity. This is also called "photovoltaics" from photo for light and voltaic for electricity. It is abbreviated as "PV".
A typical residential grid-tied PV system is shown below.
Sunlight is converted to DC electricity by the solar panel cells. The DC electricity is converted to AC electricity by an inverter. The inverter output is connected to the utility grid either through a circuit breaker load panel or tied to the service line. Electricity generated by the PV system will be consumed by the home and/or fed back to the utility grid.
Check out more information on how this technology was discovered and has progressed through the years from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory here.