What is a photovoltaic system?
A photovoltaic system is a special electric system capable of producing energy from a renewable and inexhaustible source: the sun.
There are essentially two different types of photovoltaic systems:
- “Grid-connected” systems that coexist within traditional residential/industrial, electricity systems. Their use can be alternated with that of the traditional electricity grid, including when there is no sun, to ensure that the end client’s energy requirements are always met.
- Stand-alone systems which incorporate a battery system to guarantee “continuity of service” i.e. electricity supply throughout the night or when there is either not enough sun or no sun at all.
The main components in a photovoltaic system are:
- Photovoltaic modules: a photovoltaic system captures energy from sunlight using special components known as photovoltaic modules made from a material (silicon) that generates electricity when exposed to sunlight.
- Module support structure: these structures support the modules by securing them to a roof (roof mount) and, in the case of flat roofs can also orientate the modules in order to optimise exposure by angling them towards the sunlight.
- Inverter: this electronic device transforms the energy produced by the modules (direct current, DC) into the type of current used by residential users – for white goods and appliances – and industrial users (alternating current, AC).
- In order to safeguard the system, inverters incorporate protection devices that trigger a shutdown in the event of a blackout or grid disturbances. Various types of inverters exist, their features differ according to whether the photovoltaic system is grid-connected or stand-alone.
- Electrical cabling: the electrical cables that transport the energy from the system to the users.
Additional components that help improve the efficiency of the system are becoming increasingly widespread. These include:
- Monitoring systems: these enable the remote monitoring of the system’s production and self-consumption patterns, as well as verifying the status of the inverter.
- Energy Storage: an innovative system that increases the efficiency of the photovoltaic system by storing the energy produced during the day so that it can be used even when the system is not generating. This enables users to maximise self-consumption of the energy produced without having to alter their consumption habits.