What is PV? How does it work?

By Aisling McArdle, Kingspan Powerpanel.

What is PV?

Photo Voltaic technology uses solar power created during daylight hours and turns it into electricity that can be used by the building and/or sent back to the national grid.

It is a clean and quiet source of renewable energy, which is visually unobtrusive (when using integrated PV). It is a reliable energy source guaranteed for 25 years and can be sized to suit any on-site energy requirement.

How does it work?

  1. PV cells are combined into modules which are then combined into a series string and joined together into an array.
  2. The array is attached to a (preferably) south facing roof either using aluminium railings or by replacing the roof panels with new panels that have the PV cells already integrated.
  3. The PV strings are wired up and fixed along the roof ingress point. The cabling then enters the building via the ridge cap or weather-tight opening.
  4. A DC current is generated in the cell by sunlight and is sent down the cables and into the building, down to a control box.
  5. The control box is connected to an inverter that changes the DC current to an AC current.
  6. The AC current is connected to the grid and to the generator meter in the property
  7. The property can then use the power directly and any excess is directed to the national grid.

Funding and energy generation

The size of a system is measured in terms of kilowatts it can achieve, its kilowatt peak.

  • 1 module = 1.62m2 = 235 watt peak
  • 4 modules = 6.5m2 = 1 kilowatt peak

With the current Government schemes it is possible either to self-fund the system and keep all the returns from the Feed in Tariff (FITs) and selling the energy back to the grid, or the system can be installed free and the installation company takes the payments and the resident enjoys free electricity. 

For more information on FITs see our next blog post next Monday on ‘FITs and PV potential in the UK’ or come to my seminar at the Energy Solutions Expo event, London Olympia 11-12th October.  It’s taking place at the Renewables Theatre, 1pm on 12th October. I’ll also be at our stand E14 throughout the event.

Kingspan’s Powerpanel team is expert in PV technology, the details of FITs and the installation of a variety of different panel systems, so for more information on any of the above, please drop me a line: Aisling.McArdle@Kingspan.com or take a look at our website: www.kingspanpowerpanel.com.


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