Category Electricity from Sunlight:. An Introduction to. Photovoltaics

Coming up to date

Подпись: Coming up to date
How can we summarise the current status of a technology such as PV that has been, and still is, experiencing dramatic growth? Today’s research and development, novel PV installations, and global statistics will very soon seem history. But fortunately certain trends that have developed over the past 15 or 20 years seem likely pointers to the future. We can discuss these trends more easily by dividing PV systems into two broad categories: grid – connected systems (also called grid-tied systems) that feed any surplus PV electricity into a grid and accept electricity from the grid when there is a solar deficit; and stand-alone systems that are self-contained and not tied to a conventional electricity grid. These categories may usefully be sub­divided as follows:

Grid-connected systems


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A piece of history

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Light has fascinated some of the world’s greatest scientists. One of the most famous of them all, Isaac Newton (1642-1727), thought of it as a stream

of particles, rather like miniature billiard balls. But in the early 19th century experiments by the English polymath Thomas Young and French physicist Augustin Fresnel demonstrated interference effects in light beams, which include the bands of colours often seen on the surface of soap bubbles. This suggested that light acts as a wave rather like the ripples on a pond – a theory reinforced by James Clerk Maxwell’s work in the 1860s, showing visible light to be part of a very wide spectrum of electro­magnetic radiation.

Yet Newton’s ‘billiard ball’ theory refused to go away...

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The solar resource

Подпись: The solar resource
The Sun sends an almost unimaginable amount of energy towards Planet Earth – around 1017W (one hundred thousand million million watts). In electrical supply terms this is equivalent to the output of about one hundred million modern fossil fuel or nuclear power stations. To state it another way, the Sun provides in about an hour the present energy requirements of the entire human population for a whole year. It seems that all we need do to convert society ‘from carbon to solar’ is to tap into a tiny proportion of this vast potential.

However some caution is needed. The majority of solar radiation falls on the world’s oceans. Some is interrupted by clouds and a lot more arrives at inconvenient times or places...

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The sun, earth, and renewable energy

Подпись: The sun, earth, and renewable energy
We are entering a new solar age. For the last few hundred years humans have been using up fossil fuels that took around 400 million years to form and store underground. We must now put huge effort – technological and political – into energy systems that use the Sun’s energy more directly. It is one of the most inspiring challenges facing today’s engineers and scien­tists and a worthwhile career path for the next generation. Photovoltaics (PV), the subject of this book, is one of the exciting new technologies that is already helping us towards a solar future.

Most politicians and policymakers agree that a massive redirection of energy policy is essential if Planet Earth is to survive the 21st century in reasonable shape. This is not simply a matter of fuel reserves...

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Additional acknowledgements

I am also grateful to a further group of companies and organisations that have agreed to their photographs appearing in this book, and for help received in each case from the named individual:

Amonix Inc. (Nate Morefield)

3425 Fujita Street, Torrance, CA 90505, USA

(Figure 3.21)

Boeing Images (Mary E. Kane), USA www. boeingimages. com

(Figure 2.32 )

Dyesol Ltd (Viv Tulloch)

PO. Box 6212, Queanbeyan, NSW 2620, Australia

(Figure 2.35 )

Dylan Cross Photographer (Dylan Cross), USA

dylan@dylancross. com

(Figure 5.31 )

First Solar Inc. (Brandon Michener) Rue de la Science 41, 1040 Brussels, Belgium

(Figure 2.31 )

Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust (Maggie Fyffe) Isle of Eigg, Inverness-shire PH42 4RL, Scotland

(Figure 5.23 b)

Padcon GmbH (Peter Perzl) Prinz-Ludwig...

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The International Energy Agency Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme (IEA PVPS)

The International Energy Agency (IEA), founded in 1974 as part of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), encourages energy cooperation among member countries. Its Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme (IEA PVPS), begun in 1993, now has 23 members worldwide and organises international projects to accelerate the development and deployment of Photovoltaics.

The IEA PVPS website (www. iea-pvps. org) includes a series of excellent Annual Reports giving up-to-date information about PV developments in the various member countries. The author acknowledges use of the follow­ing photographs from these Annual Reports, which are reproduced by permission of IEA PVPS.

Figures 1.1, 1.4, 1.8, 1.13, 1.14, 1.15, 2.2, 2.27, 3.3, 3.14, 4.2, 4.3,

4.6, 4.7, 4.10, 4.13, 4.19, 4.22, 4...

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The European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA)

The EPIA is the world’s largest industry association devoted to Photovoltaics, with more than 200 business members representing about 95% of the European PV industry. EPIA members are active across the whole field of PV from silicon producers, cell and module manufacturers, to system providers. Amongst the Association’s many activities promoting a higher awareness and penetration of the technology, it represents the European PV industry in contact with political institutions and key decision makers.

The Association’s informative website (www. epia. org) includes an excel­lent photo gallery with a comprehensive selection of images provided by business members. The author acknowledges use of the following photo­graphs, which are reproduced by permission of the EPIA:

Figures 1.3,1...

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Electricity from Sunlight An Introduction to Photovoltaics

Paul A. Lynn BSc(Eng), PhD

Photovoltaics (PV), the ‘carbon-free’ technology that converts sunlight directly into electricity, has grown dramatically in recent years. Unique among the renewable energies in its interaction with the built environment, PV is becoming part of the daily experience of citizens in developed coun­tries as millions of PV modules are installed on rooftops and building facades. People living in sunshine countries will increasingly live in solar homes or receive their electricity from large PV power plants. Many gov­ernments around the world are now keen to promote renewable electricity as an essential part of the 21st century’s energy mix, and PV is set for an exciting future.

This book is designed for students and professionals looking for a concise, authorit...

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