sharp
You are here: Sharp United Kingdom > Products > Solar > Photovoltaic

Photovoltaics

The energy of the future – All good things come from above

The sun has been active for several billion years. It provides us with light and heat without billing us for a single sunbeam. In less than an hour, the sun emits as much energy to the earth as is used by the entire population of the planet in one year. By comparison: every square metre of the sun radiates the energy equivalent of 6,300 litres of heating oil every hour. If less than one hundredth of this enormous energy potential were used, this would permanently solve all energy problems on our planet.

The end of fossil fuels?

In just a few centuries, we have managed to use up the natural fossil fuels formed over millions of years for heating, cooking, showering and driving. The increasing scarcity of these resources means that we may very soon face a permanent under-supply and exploding costs for raw materials.

Not to mention the environmental damage. Approximately three quarters of damaging greenhouse gases result from the use of oil, natural gas and coal. The consequences of the greenhouse effect can already be seen today. To combat the threat of a climate catastrophe, the industrial nations signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, and made a commitment to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

A sunny outlook for renewable energies

Our approach to energy is changing worldwide, and the changes are feasible and financially attainable for everyone. In 2005, an average 3-person household paid only 24 cents per month, instead of high subsidies, for the generation of solar power. According to a study of the German government, by 2050, 65 % of the electricity consumption in Germany could be provided by renewable energy sources. This would save 75 % of the greenhouse gas emissions, with about one third of these savings being provided by solar energy alone.

Renewable energy sources also have a positive effect on the job market. The young photovoltaics sector already supplies an impressive 20,000 jobs, with a boom in the industry creating 5,000 new jobs last year alone. An estimated 100,000 new jobs will be created in the next 15 years.

What is photovoltaics ?

Photovoltaics – Your power cable to the sun

Electricity from sunlight – No other form of power generation is as clean, environmentally-friendly and universally applicable. Using the sun as a natural energy source is not a new idea. In ancient times, 2,500 years ago, the Greeks designed their houses to make use of solar energy: large southerly windows allowed sunlight into the house during the day. The walls stored the heat and then released it again during the night.

Modern-day solar architecture is related to this ancient tradition of passive solar energy use. Passive solar energy use can be defined as the use of solar energy without technical assistance. The architecture of a building, especially a southerly orientation, can be used to heat rooms directly with sunlight. On fine winter days, the low sun can heat southerly rooms, while the high sun in summer does not overheat them. Significant energy yields can be obtained through the use of new building materials and technologies, especially via specific use of glass on southern facades. This also results in bright, friendly rooms.

Solar cells have been providing energy for satellites in space for 50 years, and solar-powered pocket calculators and clocks are now common household items. In the long term, solar energy is the most important source of energy for the human race. According to expert opinion, increasing global energy requirements will exhaust conventional energy resources such as oil, gas and coal before the end of this century.

Photovoltaics (PV), the generation of power from the sun, is becoming increasingly popular in Germany (800,000 solar systems are already in operation) for reasons of ecological commitment, but also because the cost of a PV system is continually falling, and the German state created the conditions necessary for profitable operation of such systems.

Your new source of income

With a relatively small capital investment you can make considerable profits with your own PV system, even after 20 years of operation. No matter whether you continue to feed the public power grid after the introduction of newly negotiated conditions or use the solar power for your own requirements. Your solar installer can provide you with an exact profitability analysis, giving you personalised calculations as part of an individual consultation.

Tax advantages included

As an officially recognized "solar provider", you enjoy certain tax advantages, e.g. a VAT rebate and special savings write-offs. You should definitely consult a tax advisor in this regard.

Technical principle

Photovoltaics: the principle is clear as daylight

Albert Einstein did not receive the Nobel prize in 1921 for the theory of relativity – as often assumed – but rather for his work on the photoelectric effect. A stroke of genius that, under the term photovoltaics (PV), has now advanced to become the most environmentally-friendly form of power generation.

Photovoltaics mean the direct conversion of sunlight into electricity via a physical reaction. This electrifying process is performed by the solar cells, which are normally connected in series to form photovoltaic modules.
Almost 95 % of all solar cells are made from the semiconductor silicon, which is the second most common element in the earth's crust and is available in enormous quantities. A solar cell consists of two layers: one negatively doped layer and one positively doped layer. When sunlight hits the solar cell, this triggers a physical reaction that generates direct current. Since most electrical appliances and the electricity grid run on alternating current, the direct current must be converted to alternating current at the correct voltage. This process is performed by an inverter. The solar power thus created can immediately be used in your home, stored in batteries or fed into the public power grid

A photovoltaic system is our direct power cable to the sun.

Grid connected: a rewarding connection

Over 100,000 grid-connected PV systems are already installed in Germany and Austria. The alternating current generated is fed into the local power grid via a separate feed meter. In Germany, the local grid operator purchases the solar power fed into the grid according to the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG). This provides the supplier with cash for every generated kilowatt hour fed into the grid.

A grid-connected PV system includes:

PV modules for converting light into electrical power
 
An inverter for converting the solar power to mains grid power

The inverter converts the direct current into alternating current and controls the entire system. This is necessary if the public mains grid fails or is switched off.
 
AC meter / Feed meter for recording the power yields.
 
Safety components providing electrical protection for the PV system.

 

Technology that delivers what it promises

Photovoltaic systems have proven their worth under extreme conditions. Sharp PV modules have now been used in space for decades to provide satellites with power. They resist the forces of nature, such as storms and salt water, when installed in lighthouses.

Standalone solution: standing alone makes you strong

A solar home system gives you independence. Standalone PV systems are becoming increasingly popular in Europe, especially in the leisure sector. Say goodbye to connection problems and noisy generators. A grid-independent photovoltaic system provides you with power wherever you need it. For motor caravans, boats, allotment houses, weekend houses or ski huts: a home solar system provides convenient electricity for lighting, refrigerators, radios and televisions, and is at the same time environmentally friendly and quiet.

A standalone system includes:
PV modules for converting light into electrical power
 
An inverter for converting the solar power to mains grid power
 
A charge controller for controlling the charging and discharging of the solar batteries
 
Solar batteries for storing the generated direct current