Solar Power Systems – Basics

When people talk about solar power, they are referring to technologies for converting the energy of sunlight into other forms of energy, such as heat and electricity. It is a well-known fact that the sun emits enormous amounts of energy. According to the approximate estimates of authoritative international organizations, the amount of energy consumed today by mankind fluctuates at 245 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, and the intensity of the flow of solar radiation at the surface of the Earth, recalculated for the entire surface is 1.74*E+17 W.

That is, the Sun “sends” us energy approximately 10,500 times more than we consume today. The amount of solar energy is practically exhaustible, so it is obvious that this amount of energy will last us for hundreds or even thousands of years to come! Given the growing understanding of the economic, environmental and other problems associated with the use of traditional energy resources (coal, oil, natural gas), interest in solar energy is increasing day by day.

Use of solar energy

At a time when the global economy is marked by a significant downturn, the solar energy industry, one of the few that report positive growth dynamics. And these figures are quite impressive and surprising even among the skeptics of solar energy. Over the past 10 years, the annual average growth rate (CAGR) of new solar panel installations in the world was 50.4%.

Also interesting is the forecast that market experts provide for the next 5 years. According to the European Photovoltaic Association (EPIA), the total stock of solar modules may increase by almost 5 times! Now everyone can install a solar power system, so there is nothing surprising about this rate of growth.

The solar power industry is most often divided by direction:

  • Heliothermal energy, where the heating medium for heating, DHW and other needs is heated by direct conversion of solar radiation into thermal energy;
  • Electricity generation with the help of heat machines, where the working body is heated by solar energy;
  • Conversion of solar energy into electricity by means of a solar panel (solar cell).

Solar panels

Solar panel means a set of interconnected photomodules. A photo module (hereinafter referred to as a module) is in turn composed of photovoltaic cells or photovoltaic converters. These are the basic solar power system components.

An individual photovoltaic converter is a semiconductor device that converts the energy of photons (light energy) into electrical energy. The energy conversion takes place at the level of the atomic structure of the body. The most common material for photovoltaic converters is silicon. Each individual photovoltaic converter is capable of generating a relatively small voltage (about 0.5 V), so individual elements are assembled into modules, and modules into panels. This makes it possible to create an all-in-one solar power system in a box.

Depending on the power supply task, different solar panel switching circuits are used. For example, to charge a cell phone there is one, to work autonomous lighting there is another, etc. As a result of the conversion of light energy, the solar panel at its output generates a constant electrical voltage for use in systems with a nominal voltage, usually 12, 24 or 48 volts.

Although the internal electronic circuits of many electrical consumers (TV, computer, music center, etc.) operate on DC voltage (and have built-in power supplies to work), today, the “normal” electric network is AC voltage, and all devices are adapted to AC power. 220 volts for single-phase, or 380 volts for three-phase. Therefore, solar panels alone, with direct voltage, for a full power supply is not enough. Additionally, you need an inverter – an electronic device that converts the DC voltage into AC.

Solar panel generates electricity when light falls on its surface, that is, in the dark, the solar panel “rests”. But as a rule, we need electricity “around the clock”, so the system of solar panels has introduced battery packs. In its function, it performs the same function as the battery in a car or the battery in a cell phone, it stores electricity when there is a surplus, and gives it away when there is a shortage.

Charging the battery from the solar panel requires compliance with a certain algorithm. To control the process of charging the batteries, an electronic device – the charge controller is used. This is the basis of the solar power system. If you want to get more information about the work of solar power cairns, you should contact experts in the installation of such systems. Note that now there are many companies that offer their services in this area. It is up to you to find a reliable service with experienced professionals and solve this problem.