Energy school - RE - Solar - Photovoltaic

Photovoltaics (or solar cells) are used to generate electricity from solar energy in either stand-alone systems for individual buildings or as grid-connected power plants with several megawatts capacity. They are also familiar as power sources for small consumer products such as watches and calculators. Solar PV modules have become commercially attractive and their price has decreased rapidly in the past few years.

Estimates indicate that by 2020 solar electricity could provide energy to over 1 billion people worldwide, and in the process create more than 2 million jobs in production, installation and maintenance. In the EU, Spain, Germany and Italy are leaders in the photovoltaic market.

  • Can generate power even on cloudy days
  • Does not produce noise, harmful emissions or polluting gases
  • Equally well suited for installation in high density urban areas and in rural areas
  • Minimal maintenance required to keep systems running
  • Modular systems can be quickly installed anywhere and easily expanded as requirements or financial resources increase
  • Solar cells have a relatively low conversion efficiency of between 10 – 15% for converting sunlight to electricity. Nonetheless, the conversion efficiency is increasing as research leads to commercialization of improved solar cells.

Photovoltaic Solar Electricity Potential in EU

Source: European Commission, 2006

Want to know more?

EREC >>>

Photovoltaic applications and technology >>>

Introduction to photovoltaics >>>

Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme >>>

European Photovoltaic Industry Association >>>

Sources: EREC, UNEP, global trends 2009




Download PDF