How does a photovoltaic system work?

A photovoltaic system is a special electrical system that produces energy from a renewable and inexhaustible source: the sun. 

 

Essentially, there are two types of photovoltaic systems:

  • Grid-connected systems are systems that are integrated with conventional residential industrial electricity systems. These can be used when required in alternation with the electricity grid in order to meet the energy requirements of the end user when there is not sufficient solar irradiation available.
  • Stand alone systems are designed in such a way as to include a battery system in order to ensure “service continuity”, i.e. the supply of electric energy also during the night or when the level of solar irradiation is insufficient or absent. 

 

The main components of a photovoltaic system are: 

Photovoltaic modules: 

A photovoltaic system captures the energy radiated by the sun thanks to the use of special components called photovoltaic modules that are built from a material (silicon) that is able to produce electricity when hit by sunlight.

Support structures of the modules: 

These structures support the modules by fixing them to the roof. In the case of flat roofing, support structures exist that can also modify the orientation of the panels, optimising their exposure by tilting them towards the sun's rays. 

Inverter: 

This is the electronic device that transforms the energy produced by the modules (so-called direct current) into the type of energy used by residential users for household appliances, etc. or industrial users (so-called alternating current). 

For greater system safety, inverters also have protection devices that cause them to shut down in case of a power failure or network disturbance.

Electric cables: 

These are the cables that carry energy from the system to the users.

 

Photovoltaic systems also have additional components that contribute to improving efficiency. These are becoming more and more widespread and include:

A monitoring system:

This enables the remote monitoring of the photovoltaic systems, energy production and consumption as well as verifying of the status of the inverter.

Energy storage:

This is an innovative system that enables users to improve the efficiency of their photovoltaic systems by storing the energy produced during the day in order to use it later, when the system is not producing energy. In doing so, users are able to maximise their consumption of the energy produced by their photovoltaic system without having to alter their consumption habits.

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