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Photovoltaics (PV)

PV technologies convert solar energy (light) into electricity by using semiconductor materials; silicon being mostly widely used today. Direct current (DC) generated by the PV modules is usually converted into the more commonly used alternating current (AC).

Applications of PV are usually distinguished as on-grid and off -grid applications. On-grid applications deliver either the surplus electricity (the portion that is not used by the producer) or all of the electricity produced into the grid. Roof-type systems on private houses and larger plants with capacities of several megawatt s are typical application of on-grid systems. Off -grid applications do not have any access to the electricity grid and are mostly used for rural electrification and consumer goods applications.

After the discovery of the photovoltaic effect in 1839, the amount of photovoltaic applications has grown throughout the years, with a take-off in large scale installations since the beginning of the 21st century. Based on the National Renewable Energy Action Plans of the European Member States, electricity generated from PV in Europe will increase from 1470 GWh in 2005 to 83375 GWh in 2020.

PV installations can experience rapid changes in power output due to cloud transients. While this variability is typically not a concern for the individual PV system owner, it is for utilities or system operators that may have tens of thousands of grid-connected PV systems within their service territories. Gaining insight into the performance of these PV 'fleets' is important to enable utilities and ISOs to reliably interconnect PV and potentially allow for a higher percentage of PV generation on the grid, while reducing costs for themselves, ratepayers and PV system owners.


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