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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.