Jun 27 2024

Watt's That? Energy Storage - Photovoltaic Systems 

Did you know that batteries are an important part of the global energy system?


They are positioned as one of the best methods of energy storage for clean energy transitions. The use of batteries has widespread in various sectors, including transport – where they are an essential component in the millions of electric vehicles sold each year.


In the energy sector, battery storage is the fastest growing clean energy technology on the market. Their versatile nature means that they can be used for different utility-scale projects, behind-the-meter storage for households and businesses, providing electricity solutions like mini-grids and solar home systems.


The falling costs of batteries has led to rapid and increasing competitiveness of electric vehicles and storage applications in the energy sector.


According to the International Energy Agency (IEA’s Report on Batteries and Secure Energy Transitions, batteries hold a key role in fulfilling the recent 2030 commitments made by 200 countries at COP28 to put the global energy system to achieving the net zero emissions. This implies that global renewable energy capacity should be tripled, while the pace of energy efficiency improvements should be doubled and transitioned away from fossil fuels.

Storage in Photovoltaic Systems


One of the most frequently used methods of energy storage is photovoltaic – the power produced only while sunlight is available. For systems in which the photovoltaics is the sole generation source, storage is basically needed since an exact math between sunlight and the load is limited to a few types of systems, for example powering a cooling fan. In hybrid or grid connect systems, where batteries are not necessarily required, they may be beneficially included for load matching or power conditioning.


In any photovoltaic system that includes batteries, the batteries become a central component of the overall system which significantly affect the cost, maintenance requirements, reliability, and design of the photovoltaic systems.


The important battery parameters that affect the photovoltaic system operation and performance are the battery maintenance requirements, lifetime of the battery, available power and efficiency.


An ideal battery would be able to be charged and discharged indefinitely under arbitrary charging/discharging regimes would have high efficiency, high energy density, low-self discharge and be low cost. These are controlled not only by the initial choice of the battery but also by how it is used in the system, particularly how it is charged and discharged and its temperature.


The Evolution of Solar Technology


Often hailed as the father of solar power, Charles Fritts made history in 1883 by creating the world’s first solar panel. This ground-breaking invention laid the foundation for the solar technology that powers our world today.


Charles Fritts was born in 1850, a forward-thinker who saw the potential of harnessing sunlight for energy long before it became a mainstream concept. Fritts was a man driven by a passion for innovation, and his work in the late 19th century laid the foundation work for modern solar technology.

Charles Fritts installed the first solar panels on New York City rooftop in 1884

Back in 1883 in New York, investor Charles Fritts created the first solar cell by coating selenium with a thin layer of gold. Fritts reported that the selenium module produced a current “that is continuous, constant, and of considerable force.” This cell achieved an energy conversion rate of 1 to 2 percent. Most modern solar cells work an efficiency of 15 to 20 percent. So, Fritts created what was a low impact solar cell, but still, it was the beginning of photovoltaic solar panel innovation in America. Named after Italian physicist, chemist, and pioneer of electricity and power, Alessandro Volta, photovoltaic is the more technical term for turning light energy into electricity and used interchangeably with the term photoelectric.

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The Role of Independent Power Producers in Africa’s Renewable Energy Future

As Africa continues to navigate the complexities of meeting its growing energy demands while advancing sustainable development goals, the role of Independent Power Producers (IPPs) emerges as a critical component of the continent’s energy landscape. IPPs play a pivotal role in bridging the energy gap, particularly in regions where access to reliable electricity remains a significant challenge.

By leveraging private sector investments, expertise, and innovative technologies, IPPs have contributed to expanding access to electricity, enhancing grid reliability, and diversifying the energy mix in various African countries.  Furthermore, supporting the role of IPPs is understanding the structuring of Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). A Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) establishes the price, duration, and other essential terms under which electricity generated by the producer will be bought by the purchaser, providing financial predictability for both parties involved.

IPPs are instrumental in accelerating the deployment of renewable energy resources, improving energy efficiency, and promoting sustainable development across Africa. Through public-private partnerships, policy incentives, and regulatory frameworks that facilitate private sector participation, African governments can unlock the full potential of IPPs to drive economic growth, create jobs, and mitigate climate change impacts.

Key aspects relating to IPPs include:

Energy Access: IPPs have played a significant role in increasing access to electricity in rural and urban areas, enabling communities to unlock opportunities for education, healthcare, and economic development.

Investment and Innovation: By attracting foreign and domestic investments, IPPs have facilitated the deployment of innovative technologies and solutions that enhance energy efficiency, reliability, and sustainability.

Policy and Regulatory Frameworks: The success of IPPs is closely linked to conducive policy environments, transparent regulatory frameworks, and risk mitigation mechanisms that foster investor confidence and facilitate project development.

Economic Growth: IPPs contribute to job creation, skill development, and local economic development through supply chain integration, infrastructure development, and community engagement initiatives.

Many IPPs in Africa are involved in renewable energy projects. The continent has abundant renewable resources, and IPPs can play a vital role in accelerating the transition to clean and sustainable energy. This not only mitigates environmental impact but also positions Africa as a global leader in renewable energy development. IPPs can contribute to expanding access to electricity in regions with limited or no grid connectivity. Through mini-grid and off-grid projects, IPPs can bring power to rural and remote communities, improving living standards and fostering economic activities.

Africa faces challenges related to energy poverty, with a significant portion of the population lacking reliable access to electricity. IPPs, especially those focusing on off-grid solutions, can play a vital role in addressing energy poverty by providing sustainable and affordable power solutions.


May 27 2024
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