The main uses of photovoltaic solar energy are as follows:
- Generate electricity to sell it to the electricity grid.
- Autonomous lighting systems.
- Signaling by photovoltaic energy, for example in headlights.
- Rural electrification, villages far from the main electricity networks.
- Photovoltaic systems related to telecommunications, repeaters, etc.
- Agricultural and livestock farms
As we can see, the applications of photovoltaic solar energy are many and very varied. In this field, they include everything from large power plants using photovoltaic panels to small solar calculators.
A first way to classify applications of photovoltaic solar energy is to distinguish applications connected to the electrical grid and isolated installations.
The use of photovoltaic panels in isolated buildings is very useful since the investment required to place solar panels on the roof of a farm, a chalet in the mountains or in a hotel in a remote area, is much less than what it would cost to take there the electrical network. In this case, it has the advantage of being renewable energy and, therefore, does not require a fuel supply.
What uses does photovoltaic energy have in systems connected to the electricity grid?
Grid-connected photovoltaic installations are one of the latest and most innovative applications of photovoltaic systems. This application consists of the installation of photovoltaic panels and an inverter capable of transforming the energy supplied by the photovoltaic solar panels and injecting it into the electrical network.
The investor in this type of installation is the central core. The inverter must have certain protections, in situations that can occur in the electrical network (for example, lag in the network, cut in the network, voltage out of range).
The cost per kWh generated is usually higher than the energy generated by other power generation systems. For this reason, to achieve the economic viability of these systems, the country must have legal regulations and lines of financial aid that compensate for the higher cost per kWh generated.
Within the grid-connected solar energy installations, we include large solar installations. These are large tracts of land with a large number of photovoltaic panels with the aim of generating large amounts of electrical energy.
What are the main uses in isolated systems?
In isolated systems, that is, in systems that are not connected to the electricity grid, the diversity of applications of photovoltaic energy is almost infinite. Still, we highlight a few examples:
Photovoltaic systems for lighting
Public lighting, using photovoltaic systems, is presented as one of the most economical solutions, to illuminate entrances in towns, road crossings, rest areas, etc.
This type of photovoltaic applications can also be found on advertising signs, bus stops, streetlights and tunnel lighting, among other examples.
Signaling using photovoltaic energy
Photovoltaic solar energy enables automation of headlights.
For aerial use, beacon feed panels and runway signage are being used.
Lighthouses and buoys for maritime use.
Another great application is the signaling of roundabouts, curves, road signs, obstacles, etc. using high brightness LEDs. The low consumption of the LEDs allows a small photovoltaic installation to be carried out in these systems.
Another great application, which has recently been added with great importance in road safety, is the signaling of roundabouts, curves, traffic signs, obstacles, etc. by means of high luminosity leds, which due to its low consumption allows to carry out a small photovoltaic installation.
Photovoltaic systems related to telecommunications
In the field of telecommunications, photovoltaic solar energy is used in the fields of mobile telephony, in radio and television repeaters. On the road, SOS poles are powered by this type of renewable energy since it saves the trouble of getting mains power cables through to them.
Radars, radiotelephony in general and for military or forestry surveillance posts, rural satellite telephony, are other examples in which solar energy is used to operate.
Rural photovoltaic electrification
Rural electrification currently has all the comforts that can be had in a conventional electrification system. This parity is due to the incorporation of new sine wave inverters. This system allows the use of any electrical appliance.
One of the most important applications at present is the electrification of small rural towns with a centralized system.
To manage energy, an electronic energy limiting equipment is installed in each of the homes, programmed to be able to supply energy to the user on a daily basis, however, the equipment must be smart enough to increase the assigned energy, if the state of the battery is good, or the opposite if it is bad.
The second major drawback, the power of the inverter and its performance against small loads, has been solved with the installation of several inverters in parallel.
Applications of photovoltaic solar energy in agricultural and livestock farms
In livestock applications, photovoltaic solar energy is used to power pumps to provide water to livestock troughs.
Photoelectric energy is also used on farms. Farms are often far from power lines. Photovoltaic panels allow in these cases to electrify farms (motor lighting, clippers, etc.).
In certain livestock farms, photovoltaic energy is used to power the milking systems and milk cooling. Even these systems are practical for the electrification of fences.
One of the most important applications in agriculture is direct drive water pumps. This application highlights its simplicity of installation, its zero maintenance and its total automation. These systems are made up of a field of photovoltaic panels, electronic equipment and the entire system of controls and sensors for pumping.
Another application to highlight in agriculture has been the electrification of irrigation controls and solenoid valves. This electrification has allowed a better distribution and saving of water, mainly systems based on drip or low pressure irrigation.