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Photovoltaic power
worldwide GWp
2000 1
2005 5
2010 40
2011 70
2012 99
2013 136
Year end capacities
Nellis Solar Power Plant at Nellis Air Force Base in the USA. These panels track the sun in one axis.
Photovoltaic system "tree" in Styria, Austria

Photovoltaics (PVs) are arrays of cells containing a solar photovoltaic material that converts solar radiation or energy from the sun into direct current electricity. Due to the growing demand for renewable energy sources, the manufacturing of solar cells and photovoltaic arrays has advanced considerably in recent years, and costs have dropped.[1][2][3]

Solar photovoltaics is growing rapidly, from a small base, to a total global capacity of 130,000 MW at the end of 2013. More than 100 countries use solar PV.[4] Installations may be ground-mounted (and sometimes integrated with farming and grazing)[5] or built into the roof or walls of a building.

World's largest PV power stations[change | change source]

Many solar photovoltaic power stations have been built, mainly in Europe.[6] As of May 2012, the largest photovoltaic (PV) power plants in the world are the Agua Caliente Solar Project (USA, 247 MW), Charanka Solar Park (India, 214 MW), Golmud Solar Park (China, 200 MW), Perovo Solar Park (Ukraine, 100 MW), Sarnia Photovoltaic Power Plant (Canada, 97 MW), Brandenburg-Briest Solarpark (Germany, 91 MW), Solarpark Finow Tower (Germany, 84.7 MW), Montalto di Castro Photovoltaic Power Station (Italy, 84.2 MW), and the Eggebek Solar Park (Germany, 83.6 MW).[6]

Many large plants are under construction. The Desert Sunlight Solar Farm is a 550 MW solar power plant under construction in Riverside County, California, that will use thin-film solar photovoltaic modules made by First Solar.[7] The Topaz Solar Farm is a 550 MW photovoltaic power plant, being built in San Luis Obispo County, California.[8] The Blythe Solar Power Project is a 500 MW photovoltaic station under construction in Riverside County, California. The California Valley Solar Ranch (CVSR) is a 250 MW solar photovoltaic power plant, which is being built by SunPower in the Carrizo Plain, northeast of California Valley.[9] The 230 MW Antelope Valley Solar Ranch is a First Solar photovoltaic project which is under construction in the Antelope Valley area of the Western Mojave Desert, and due to be completed in 2013.[10]

Many of these plants are integrated with agriculture and some use tracking systems that follow the sun's daily path across the sky to generate more electricity than fixed-mounted systems. There are no fuel costs or emissions during operation of the power stations.

Solar Cells[change | change source]

A solar cell or photovoltaic cell is a device that changes light energy into electricity. Photovoltaics are best known as a method for making electricity by using solar cells to change energy from the sun into a flow of electrons. The photovoltaic effect was first noticed by Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel in 1839. "Photovoltaic Effect". Retrieved 24 May 2012. Eric Seale (July 11, 2003). "Photovoltaic Effect". Retrieved 24 May 2012. Practically all photovoltaic devices are some type of photodiode.

Solar cells can be used to power tools or to recharge a storage battery. The first actual request of photovoltaics was to power orbiting satellites and other spacecrafts, but today the most photovoltaic modules are used for grid connected power creation. In this case a tool called an inverter is required to convert the direct current to alternating current. Cells require protection from the environment and are usually packaged tightly behind a glass sheet. When more power is required than a single cell can give off, cells are electrically connected together to form photovoltaic modules, or solar panels. A single module is enough to power an emergency telephone, but for a house or a power plant the modules must be arranged in multiples as arrays.

Notes[change | change source]

  1. German PV market
  2. BP Solar to Expand Its Solar Cell Plants in Spain and India
  3. Large-Scale, Cheap Solar Electricity
  4. REN21 (2011). "Renewables 2011: Global Status Report". p. 22.
  5. GE Invests, Delivers One of World's Largest Solar Power Plants
  6. 6.0 6.1 Denis Lenardic. Large-scale photovoltaic power plants ranking 1 - 50, 2010.
  7. "DOE Closes on Four Major Solar Projects". Renewable Energy World. 30 September 2011.
  8. Steve Leone (7 December 2011). "Billionaire Buffett Bets on Solar Energy". Renewable Energy World.
  9. "NRG Energy Completes Acquisition of 250-Megawatt California Valley Solar Ranch from SunPower". MarketWatch. 30 September 2011.
  10. "Exelon purchases 230 MW Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One from First Solar". Solar Server. 4 October 2011.

Other websites[change | change source]

Other pages[change | change source]