Energycount - Dorset - SAP Calculations - SBEM Calculations - Part L - EPC - Renewables Reports - Energy Statements
Energycount - Dorset - SAP Calculations - SBEM Calculations - Part L - EPC - Renewables Reports - Energy Statements
Energycount - Dorset - SAP Calculations - SBEM Calculations - Part L - EPC - Renewables Reports - Energy Statements
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Solar PV (Photovoltaic) panels


Solar PV panels in a sunny field

PV systems convert energy from the sun into electricity via semi-conducting cells.

A cell consists of a junction between two thin layers of dissimilar semi-conducting materials (usually based on silicon). When light shines on the junction, a difference in energy is created - known as “potential difference” or “voltage”. This voltage is used to produce an electrical current (direct current - DC) which can be used directly or converted into alternating current (AC) with an inverter.

AC is the most appropriate for domestic use and for exporting to the local electricity network or national grid.

The brighter the light, the more power is produced by the cells - although PV cells still produce power when the sun is hidden by clouds. However, shading from other objects (nearby buildings, trees) is a key issue with PV – they are more likely to produce a drop in output than solar thermal panels (this is where more expensive inverters come in)

Ideally panels should be oriented as close to south as possible (although modern panels work well in East or West as well), and be unshaded for most of the day.

Individual PV cells produce only a small amount of power and so are connected together to form modules/panels, which are then linked to form an array which is sized depending upon the energy required.

There are 2 main types of solar cells available in the UK:

Monocrystalline
Very thin wafers of silicon cut from a small seed crystal. More efficient than polycrystalline, but more expensive due to the manufacturing process.

Polycrystalline
Instead of one crystal, several different crystals are used for producing the slices. The result is cheaper PV cells than monocrystalline but lower efficiencies. Usually polycrystalline panels are blue in colour.

Generally PV panels in the UK are of a standard 1 metre x 1.6 metre size, with the generation capacity ranging from 250W to 400W, depending on the efficiency of the panel. The more efficient the panel, the more expensive it is.

Inverters range in price and again this is largely down to efficiency, but also functionality. Some inverters use optimisers behind each PV panel which montior and comminicate with the inverter to ensure the whole PV array functions efficiently (perfect for roofs that have some shading at certain times of day, or roofs that are at various angles and orientations).

 

PV is a good and cost effective method of achieving renewables targets set by planning condition or building control. Read more about our renewables and energy demand reports.


 

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