Solar Energy Utilisation
The utilisation of solar energy is divided into two different fields: photovoltaic and solar thermal applications.
Photovoltaic is the conversion of solar energy to electricity. Solar cells are the heart of photovoltaic: sun rays impinge on silicon layers, where they release negatively charged particles from silicon atoms. Most solar cells are made from silicon. The basic raw material for silicon is sand (silicon oxide) – the second most common element on planet earth. Solar cells made from silicon feature different structures.
There are two different types of photovoltaic systems:
a) Stand-alone systems
Off-grid, independent solar plants are called stand-alone systems. Electricity is buffered in storage batteries and is thus always available – even at night. In daytime, the storage batteries are recharged with solar electricity. Thanks to their storage batteries, stand-alone systems will properly function even without any exposure to light for several weeks. Their charge controller ensures reliable operation and the battery’s long economic life-time.
b) Grid-connected systems
Grid-connected systems directly feed solar energy into the public electricity grid. The meter is thus decremental – the electricity is sold to the respective electric company. Systems of this type are also called solar power stations. Usually, solar power stations are installed on the roofs of industrial premises, public buildings or private properties.
Solar thermal applications
The procedure of directly converting sunlight to heat is called solar thermal energy. The sun’s rays impinge on a flat frame (collector), which contains black-coated sheet metal. Serpentine tubes serve to lead the water through the collector. The impinging light is directly converted to heat, which heats the water. A pump conveys the heated water into a reservoir. An electric control ensures that the water is pumped on as soon as the collector’s temperature exceeds the one measured in the reservoir. The energy generated is now available in the reservoir for heating service water and rooms.
Megasol is specialist and producer in the photovoltaic sector. Amongst others, we deliver convenient solar products, stand-alone systems for boats or summer houses as well as large-scale grid-connected solar power stations. Therefore, the information provided on the following pages exclusively relates to photovoltaic.
If you are interested in a solar thermal energy system or installation, please contact us for individual advice.