Photovoltaic power is a renewable electrical energy produced with solar radiation. The photovoltaic cell is the basic electronic component using the photoelectric effect of sunlight. Several interconnected cells form a photovoltaic module, then several modules connected in series and/or in parallel form a solar power plant producing electricity for use in islanding system, or to feed in the public electrical distribution network.
Isolated solar plants can directly consume the electricity produced in non grid-connected sites, equipped, with batteries for storage in order to benefit of electricity also outside of production hours (p. ex. overnight). Photovoltaic systems can be connected to the distribution network, these facilities are equipped with inverters converting the direct current into alternative current, according to the specific characteristics of each local area network (p. ex. 50 Hz frequency). This second installation category requires on purpose no storage facility, electricity being consumed by the nearest consumers on the electrical network.
The photovoltaic technology is subdivided into monocrystalline solar modules on one hand, with the best effectiveness per unit area and are mainly used on smaller surfaces. Polycrystalline solar modules on the other hand have meanwhile the best quality/price ratio, why their use dominates the photovoltaic market currently with an optimum efficiency and also a predictable lifetime of over 30 years.
The amorphous solar modules have finally considerable potential for the future solar industry with various applications and a better performance by diffused light. However amorphous silicon cells have a lower effectiveness of almost 50% compared with a standard criystalline module. Therefore they aremore suitable for industrial sized photovoltaic power plants and large-scale ground mounted solar parcs, with consequent economies of scale on their production costs and the carbon balance!