Solar Power » Technologies

Solar Power Technologies

There are two ways of converting solar radiation into electric energy:

  • Photovoltaics (PV): In certain materials, absorbed light is directly converted into electricity (photo-effect)
  • Concentrated Solar Thermal (CST): Here, direct light is focused into one point in order to heat a liquid. The heat is subsequently used to drive a generator like in a conventional power station.
Solar Technologies

Measuring

We are using a number of measures to describe solar modules:

  units Definition
Rated Power W Maximum power the system is capable of delivering. This is also called the nominal power.
Peak Power Wp This is the power a module delivers if subjected to a standard radiation (Am-1.5) of 1kW/m².
Cell Efficiency % Rate at which the semiconductor cell converts energy from radiation into electricity.
Module Efficiency % As several cells are connected to form a module, there are additional losses stemming from the wiring. Note that there is no difference between cells and modules in thin-film technology.
Capacity Factor %

With respect to a specific installation, the capacity factor is the average power delivered over a year compared to the rated power. Hence, it is a measure of the actual output compared to the output it could deliver.

Reasons why the capacity factor is less than a 100%:

  • Variance in solar irradiance: darkness during night, clouds etc.
  • Downtime due to maintenance
  • Non-optimal optimal operation due to panels not clean or not free from snow.
  • The System is oversized for the given location.
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