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Home » Energy » solar energy » PV Solar Electricity
PV Solar Electricity

Photovoltaic (solar cell) Systems 

Sunlight is converted into electricity directly by photovoltaic cells (PV) or solar cell; semiconductor devices which contain no liquids, corrosive chemicals or moving parts. Small solar cells are often used to power calculators and watches.
They are made of semiconducting materials similar to those used in computer chips. When sunlight is absorbed by these materials, the solar energy knocks electrons loose from their atoms, allowing the electrons to flow through the material to produce electricity. This process of converting light (photons) to electricity (voltage) is called the photovoltaic (PV) effect.
As a solar energy technology, photovoltaics has numerous environmental benefits: it does not pollute, it is silent, solar cells require little maintenance and as a domestic source of electricity it makes energy security totally independent of foreign suppliers.
Photovoltaic systems can either be used as an independent power supply or they can be connected to the grid.

PV Systems

The basic photovoltaic or solar cell typically produces only a small amount of power (typically producing about 1 or 2 watts). To produce more power, cells are interconnected to form larger units called modules, which in turn are connected into even larger units called arrays. These arrays are further interconnected to yet produce more power, and so. Because of this modularity, these PV systems can be designed to meet any electrical requirement, no matter how large or how small.
PV systems is classified into two general categories: flat-plate systems or concentrator systems. Differences between these two types of systems later on.


                               
By themselves, modules or arrays do not represent an entire PV system. We provide structures to put them on that point them toward the sun, and components that take the direct-current electricity produced by modules and "condition" that electricity, usually by converting it to alternate-current electricity. We may also to store some electricity, usually in batteries, for later use. All these items are referred to as the "balance of system" (BOS) components.


Combining modules with the BOS components creates an entire PV system. This system is usually everything we need to meet a particular energy demand, such as powering a water pump, or the appliances and lights in a home, or, if the PV system is large enough, all the electrical requirements of a whole community. Similarly for large electric utility or industrial applications, hundreds of arrays can be interconnected to form a single, large PV system.
The sunnier the position the more electricity that can be generated. This often, but not always, means positioning the panels on a south facing roof. While it might be true that solar cannot generate electricity all the time, it does generate electricity when it is needed most – during the day and on hot sunny days when electricity demand is at its peak driven by air-conditioners.
Importantly, electricity is generated at the point of demand - where people live and work which means there is no need to transfer the energy long distances across expensive infrastructure.

Converting Sunlight to Electricity

A solar power system is a combination of solar modules wired in series to form an array designed to meet a predetermined electricity demand. Solar modules are comprised of multiple solar cells. The solar cells capture energy from sunlight and convert it into electricity. This conversion process occurs because of the special properties of the semi-conducting materials (silicon) from which solar cells are made.

The silicon that makes up solar cells is a "semi-conductor" material having properties of both a metal and an insulator. N-type silicon ('N' is for negative) contains phosphorus, which produces more free electrons and is a better conductor than pure silicon. P-type silicon ('P' is for positive) contains boron which works to produce the positive charge in the electricity the modules produce. The two layers work together to produce electricity from sunlight. However, solar cells alone cannot produce usable electricity. They need to be connected with other system components that produce a specific electrical demand, often referred to as "load".
When the sun shines on the solar modules of a system, they produce direct current (DC) electricity. This electricity is transmitted from the modules to an electronic inverter which converts the DC electricity to alternating current (AC). The AC electricity is then transmitted to the home's or building's distribution system to supply electric power as needed throughout daylight hours. The excess electricity is diverted out to the power grid causing the electric meter to spin backwards and produce credits toward the electric utility bill. During non-sun hours, utility power provides the electricity needed.
Solar cells are typically combined into modules that hold about 40 cells; a number of these modules are mounted in PV arrays that can measure up to several meters on a side.
Thin film solar cells use layers of semiconductor materials only a few micrometers thick. Thin film technology has made it possible for solar cells to now double as rooftop shingles, roof tiles, building facades, or the glazing for skylights or atria. The solar cell version of items such as shingles offer the same protection and durability as ordinary asphalt shingles.
Some solar cells are designed to operate with concentrated sunlight. These cells are built into concentrating collectors that use a lens to focus the sunlight onto the cells. This approach has both advantages and disadvantages compared with flat-plate PV arrays. The main idea is to use very little of the expensive semiconducting PV material while collecting as much sunlight as possible. But because the lenses must be pointed at the sun, the use of concentrating collectors is limited to the sunniest parts of the country. Some concentrating collectors are designed to be mounted on simple tracking devices, but most require sophisticated tracking devices, which further limit their use to electric utilities, industries, and large buildings. 


Solar Electric or Photovoltaic (PV) Power Systems
Some Sample Solar PV systems for Residential, Commercial, Farm and Industrial Use

          

            

           

           

        

 

 

Solar Electric Off-grid & Grid-tied Houses 

To build or retrofit your home for a solar electric system, follow WATEEN Solutions's Step-by-Step Guide

Electricity can be exported to the national grid at over 10p per kWh

An off-grid home is able to operate completely independently of public electrical utilities such as Ontario’s Hydro One. An off-grid solar electric home can be either, "autonomous" or "hybrid". Autonomous homes rely soley on solar power to generate electricity while hybrids supplement solar power with other sources such as wind, micro-hydro, and fuel-fired generators. In most cases an off-grid home will require a generator for backup.

Whether from choice or necessity, living off-grid is a life-style that may not be for everyone. Although this autonomous way of life has many benefits it requires a serious committment to energy conservation. At present, and in the short-term, living in an off-grid house will be more expensive in terms of cost and effort than living in a comparable home tied to the electrical grid. When designing an off-grid system, the first question you ask is: “How much power do I need?”

A grid-tied home combines the comfort and economy of a regular electrical connection with the environmental advantages and independence of a solar electric system. Grid-tied systems are designed to feed directly into your main electric box to reduce your use of electricity from the grid. If your solar system is producing more electricity than you are using, the system will even feed power back to the grid. Hydro One offers net metering which means that with the help of solar power, your electric meter spins backwards, reducing your monthly bill. When designing a system for a grid-tied home the first question is: “How much can I afford to spend?
Grid-Tied and Grid-Interactive systems benefit from Net Metering, where excess energy created by renewable energy sources is sent back to the utility for credit.
Grid-Tied systems feed power directly to the building’s existing electrical breaker panel. Since the building remains tied to the utility grid, these system are capable of eliminating the need for a bank of batteries. If back-up is critical during power outage, Grid-Interactive systems with battery back-up (a.k.a. Utility Inoperative) divert some energy to keep the battery bank charged, and feed both the existing electrical breaker panel, as well as, a sub-panel for critical loads.

Both off-grid and grid-tied systems


use PV Panels to convert sunshine to direct current (DC) electricity. Both types of system require inverters to change DC into AC (Alternating Current) electricity which is used in your home. Additional hardware is required for off-grid setups: a charger and batteries to store the electricity you generate for nighttime use and during periods of cloudy weather. Ottawa Solar Power has experience in the design and installation of both off-grid  and grid-tie systems. 


      

Spin your utility meter backwards!

Reduce your utility bills!

New Technologies bring solar to

more homes and businesses

Sharp Residential solar modules

provide a smart, attractive addition.

Options: Grid Tied Grid Interactive
w/ Battery Back-up
Off Grid
  • Power generated from

solar array offsets utility electricity

 Solar power offsets regular

electricity consumption

 Remote, independent applications
 No batteries, no back-up power

 Batteries store powerfor limited

back-up

Solar array charges a battery bank

& powers appliances

Most efficient and lowest cost type

of system

Most versatile system

 Wind turbine or generator often

provides supplemental power



Hybrid Systems
Residential wind systems are often designed as wind/solar hybrids for consistent year round production. Wind picks up during winter months while solar shines best during summer months.

Solar Generated Electricity 

Many power plants today use fossil fuels as a heat source to boil water. The steam from the boiling water rotates a large turbine, which activates a generator that produces electricity. However, a new generation of power plants, with concentrating solar power systems, uses the sun as a heat source. There are three main types of concentrating solar power systems: parabolic-trough, dish/engine, and power tower.
Parabolic-trough systems concentrate the sun's energy through long rectangular, curved (U-shaped) mirrors. The mirrors are tilted toward the sun, focusing sunlight on a pipe that runs down the center of the trough. This heats the oil flowing through the pipe. The hot oil then is used to boil water in a conventional steam generator to produce electricity.
A dish/engine system uses a mirrored dish (similar to a very large satellite dish). The dish-shaped surface collects and concentrates the sun's heat onto a receiver, which absorbs the heat and transfers it to fluid within the engine. The heat causes the fluid to expand against a piston or turbine to produce mechanical power. The mechanical power is then used to run a generator or alternator to produce electricity.
A power tower system uses a large field of mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto the top of a tower, where a receiver sits. This heats molten salt flowing through the receiver. Then, the salt's heat is used to generate electricity through a conventional steam generator. Molten salt retains heat efficiently, so it can be stored for days before being converted into electricity. That means electricity can be produced on cloudy days or even several hours after sunset.

Components of a Solar Power
Solar Panels or Modules
The systems modules convert sunlight into DC electrical current.

DC Disconnect
The DC disconnect allows for the flow of DC current to be interrupted 'upstream' of the Inverter.

Inverter
Converts DC current to usable AC current for transmission to the buildings electrical distribution system.
   
Solar Electricity Panels

Solar photovoltaic systems can be installed on both new and old properties. Our trained team will survey your property and advise you about the best position to take full advantage of your potential solar energy. A well positioned 1kW peak power system will generate between 700 and 850 kWh of electricity per year. 1 unit of electricity is equal to 1 kilowatt hour (kWh).

Solar PV Systems In Australia   

Today solar PV power is installed on over 41,000 homes across Australia. At the end of 2008 we had over 100 megawatts of solar PV capacity installed nationwide - an increase of more than 25 per cent on the previous year. This is almost 0.7% of the global installed capacity.
Solar PV has a long history of supplying reliable ‘off grid’ power to remote and regional Australian communities. Around 70 percent of all PV installations are currently off-grid. However, with the introduction of recent government incentives, the number of grid-connected solar PV installations has grown and now accounts for about 30 percent of Australia’s total installed capacity.

Potential

As one of the sunniest continents in the world, there is massive potential for solar PV to make a significant contribution to electricity generation in Australia. Couple this unrivalled resource with a multitude of open spaces, and there is no reason why Australia cannot have large scale installations generating many megawatts of electricity for sale into the grid.

Global view

Globally, the annual solar PV market grew to 5,500 megawatts in 2008.The total cumulative PV power installed globally at the end of 2008 was almost 15,000 megawatts up from 9,000 megawatts in 2007. Germany, Spain, Japan and the USA dominate the solar PV industry accounting for 80 per cent of global capacity. The growth in these markets and the emergence of new markets in France, South Korea, Czech Republic and Portugal has driven a sixfold increase in global installed capacity over the last five years.


Products we offer

WATEEN Solutions not only provides its clients with products and services from only the world's best manufacturers of high quality, high output, and custom certified PV solar panels, from a 3 watt to a 300+ watts, using different cell technologies, Q-cells, (Grade "A" Mono, Grade "A" Poly, CIGs, ATFs), Solar Power Systems, Grid Tie Systems,  Off Grid & Cabin Systems supported by detailed and comprehensive back-up technical assistance through our qualified and experience staff  but also ensure a wide range of related stock components for Solar Panels (all sizes and capacities),  Photovoltaic, RV Solar, RV & Marine Panels,  Energy Inverters,   Batteries & Enclosures,    Charge Controllers,    Monitors & Meters,    Mounts & Trackers,    Wire & Connectors,    Water Pumps,  Fountains, Lightings,    Pool & Patio, Energy Inverter, Pumps, Garden, Camping & Outdoor  Flashlights & Lanterns, Panels, Kits,    Solar Electronics &   Electronics Chargers, etc.

Sizing a system

Solar power systems are generally set-up to be modular and flexible for future needs. Therefore, you can size a system in one of three ways: based on your energy production goals (percentage of electricity to supply), your available roof space, or your budget. It takes about 1 square foot of space per 10 to 12 watts. So a typical 3,000 watt residential system would require approximately 300 sq ft of roof space. Each 1000 watts or 1kW of solar will produce approximately 100 kWH per month on average.
If you want an off-grid system or a grid-interactive system that provides uninterrupted power during a grid failure, you will need a bank of batteries. Battery banks are a major sizing concern during the system design stage. Systems with battery back up are usually sized to run specific “critical loads” (such as a well pump, lights, blower fan and refrigerator) for a certain amount of time. This is typically 3 to 5 days. When the battery bank size has been agreed upon, we size the solar array to ensure the batteries will be charged in a full day’s sun. If you also install a back-up generator, we can factor that into the system design. With a wide range of materials and options, let us help design a solar system that is right for you.

Installing a system:

WATEEN is committed to professional system designs and installations that comply with all applicable codes. We are proud to have a association of nationally certified installers working for us. WATEEN can also provide technical assistance for "do it yourself" installations performed by a sufficiently skilled homeowner.