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The renewable all-rounder Photovoltaic power

07.07.2022 5 Reading Time

klimaVest: Redakteurin Annemarie Fountoukas
Annemarie Fountoukas

Apart from wind turbines, no form of energy symbolises the energy transition in Germany as much as photovoltaics (PV). The dark, thin solar modules are now ubiquitous. Particularly in rural areas and in smaller towns and villages, they can be seen on the roofs of detached houses, farm buildings and as large-scale facilities on former fields in the so-called open space.

They are now increasingly appearing in our cities. For several years now, PV modules have been installed on the flat roofs of apartment buildings. In addition, they are often found in unexpected places. For example, the modules can also be integrated into house façades. There are even cycle paths whose substrate consists of photovoltaic panels.

Photovoltaic modules are therefore true all-rounders. And they generate a great deal of CO₂-free, clean electricity – just from the power of the sun’s rays.

Ambitious expansion plans 

But how does a photovoltaic system generate electricity? It is a complicated physical process. To summmarise, electromagnetic solar rays hit the solar cell. The electrons in the cell react to this and their movement generates direct current. This direct current is converted into alternating current via an inverter and can thus be used by a domestic household or fed into the local power grid at a low voltage level, for example. At the end of 2020, PV systems with an output of around 54 gigawatts were connected to the German grid.

The German federal government has set ambitious goals for the expansion of photovoltaics. It has only recently decided that photovoltaics in Germany should be significantly expanded by 2030. By then, a photovoltaic output of 215 gigawatts could potentially be achieved.

As with many renewable energies, photovoltaics raises the question of where the plants should be built in the first place. This question describes what is known as the land issue. In rural areas, the land is often already used for other purposes – for example as cultivation land or for animal husbandry.

Agri and floating photovoltaics 

The German Federal government wants to develop new areas in order to be able to build more photovoltaic systems in Germany. The technology is now so advanced that, for example, plants can be grown and photovoltaic systems can be installed on a field at the same time (agricultural photovoltaics). Other concepts envisage the placement of photovoltaic systems on bodies of water using floats (floating photovoltaics). Find out more about this really interesting topic in our next blog post.

Ideal partners for greater climate protection 

Photovoltaic power can also be used to charge electric cars, making their use even more environmentally friendly. Photovoltaics and electromobility are therefore the ideal partners for more climate change mitigation. By the way, solar power is particularly smart when it can be stored at home. During the day, the excess power is routed to a battery located in your own home. At night and in the evening when the sun is not shining, the electricity can then be used to operate the washing machine or other electronic devices, for example.

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