Nowadays, solar panels have become unavoidable. This green and inexhaustible energy is attracting more and more people in Switzerland and around the world. However, the process of producing solar energy may still be unknown to some people. Indeed, it is not easy to understand all the technical aspects of a solar installation. That’s why we invite you to discover today: “How do photovoltaic (PV) panels convert the sun’s rays into direct electrical current? ».
First of all, it is important to understand what these solar panels are made of. Many of them use silicon as a basic material; one of the most widespread elements on our planet.
A photovoltaic module is an assembly of monocrystalline or polycrystalline silicon cells. Generally, each panel has 60 cells in series. Being extremely fragile due to their thin thickness (~0.2 mm), the cells are enclosed between a very resistant “anti-reflective” glass (~5 mm) on the front side and a polymer coating on the back side. All this is incorporated into an aluminum frame to increase strength, ease of handling and installation.
The glazing is designed to withstand harsh climatic conditions such as wind, hail or snow
The recycling of solar panels
How it works – transforming solar radiation into electricity
Sunlight is composed of invisible particles called photons. These photons, in contact with the surface of the solar panel and silicon, will set in motion some of the electrons present in the cells and thus produce a direct electric current. This is called the “photovoltaic effect”.
Each cell will then generate a small amount of electricity, the current will flow through each cell using semiconductor wires and will add up as it passes. A device is then used to collect energy through an inverter, where the direct current is converted into the alternating current needed to supply the electrical equipment in your home. This inverter is connected to a safety box and then to the house’s electricity meter.
Average production in Switzerland
The average annual consumption of a person in Switzerland is around 1,000 kWh. In concrete terms, you only need 4.6 to 6 m² of photovoltaic panels to cover all your energy needs and thus have a neutral carbon footprint.
“Estimate your annual production (link to simulator)
Variables to be taken into account
Every time the sun shines on your roof, electricity is produced. There are several factors that can influence production:
Naturally, shaded solar panels will not produce the same amount of energy as those exposed to direct sunlight. So if your roof is deprived of sunlight by trees or other irremovable elements, the performance of your solar system will not be optimal.
Solar energy production varies from day to day and even from month to month. A cloudy winter day will not be as productive as a sunny summer day. Be careful, despite some preconceived ideas, snow can sometimes become an asset because in some cases, it reflects light and improves PV performance.
The important thing is the global sunshine per year.
“Top 5 preconceived ideas about solar energy
Not all cantons have the same solar potential. The annual sunshine of each photovoltaic panel varies according to the geographical location of your property. Thus, the installations in the South of the Swiss territory are generally more productive than those in the North. Valais, for example, has favorable conditions for solar production with an annual irradiation of 1600kWh/m², compared to less than 1000 kWh/m² in the canton of Aargau.
Orientation and Tilt
As we all know, the sun rises in the east, goes south and sets in the west. Consequently, the optimal orientation for the installation of solar panels is well south, where the sun is at its zenith at midday solar time.
Note that solar radiation produces more energy in the south but over a shorter period of the day. The west-east exposure allows a less strong but more homogeneous production throughout the day. This phenomenon thus allows an increase in self-consumption since energy is also produced in the morning and evening (unlike in the south), when household electricity is most used.
Ideally, solar panels should have the same angle as the latitude of the place where they are installed. This angle, called an “azimuth”, indicates the direction of the compass from which the sunlight comes. In Switzerland, the optimal inclination of the equipment is around 30 to 35° and thus optimizes production during the year; a higher angle would favour production during the winter while a lower one would produce more during the summer.
Younergy always take all these elements into account in order to allow you to produce your solar energy under the best conditions possible!
If you have any questions, please contact us by phone (022 548 15 29) or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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