A photovoltaic plant or photovoltaic power plant is a set of facilities for supplying electricity to the grid. For this, large-scale photovoltaic systems are used. The function is to capture and transform solar radiation into electricity.
A photovoltaic plant is a power plant basically made up of photovoltaic modules and an inverter. Photovoltaic panels are responsible for transforming solar radiation into direct current electrical energy.
The inverter is the electronic equipment whose function is to convert the direct current energy produced by the photovoltaic modules into alternating current energy with characteristics similar to those of the electrical network.
The solar installation works as a small power station for the production of electricity, which injects the energy produced into the electricity distribution network through the inverter.
This operation leads to a better performance of the installation. The energy produced is not used directly but is injected into the network and can be used by any subscriber of the electrical system.
In this way, this allows all the energy generated by the solar modules to be used, even on holidays or vacation times where own consumption can be practically nil.
Photovoltaic energy is considered a type of clean energy because it does not generate polluting gases.
How is a photovoltaic plant built?
We attach a video about the construction of the Adani's Solar Power Plant, India.
Components of a photovoltaic plant
A photovoltaic plant is made up of different components, of which we quote the main ones:
Meteorological tower It is the site where the different meteorological conditions are analyzed to determine the solar radiation that is being received or is expected to be received.
DC cabinet. It receives the electricity generated by the photovoltaic cells.
Alternating current cabinet. It receives the electricity that the inverter has transformed into alternating current.
Transformation center. Site where the energy adapts to the conditions of intensity and voltage suitable to be transported.
Transport lines. These are the lines that allow electricity to be transported to the consumption centers.
Control room. Site where the operation of all the elements of the photovoltaic plant is supervised.
The dimensioning of the electrical components must take into account that in the future the installed power of the plant may increase.
How does a photovoltaic plant work?
The operation of all the plant equipment is supervised from the control room. In the control room information is received from the different systems of the installation:
DC and AC cabinets.
Transformation center, etc.
Solar panels, obtaining electricity
Photovoltaic cells are the basic element of a photovoltaic plant. These are grouped in photovoltaic plates.
Photoelectric cells are responsible for capturing radiation from the Sun and transforming it into electrical energy. They are usually made of silicon. Silicon is a semiconductor material that facilitates the photoelectric effect.
When a photon collides with a cell cell, an electron is released. With the sum of many free electrons a continuous electric current is generated. Later, this current will be transformed into alternating current.
A fundamental element for a photovoltaic plant is meteorology (radiation, humidity, temperature ...). Depending on the meteorological situation of each moment, the solar radiation that the photovoltaic cells will receive will be variable.
For this reason, a meteorological tower is built in the plant to be able to control and analyze the different weather conditions.
Transformation from direct current to alternating current
Photovoltaic panels generate direct current. However, the electrical energy that circulates through the transmission network does so in the form of alternating current. For this reason, direct current must be transformed into alternating current.
First, the direct current from the solar panels is led to a direct current cabinet. In this cabinet the current is transformed into alternating current by means of an inverter. The current is then transported to an alternating current cabinet.
Transport and supply of electricity
The current that reaches the alternating current cabinet is not in a position to be supplied to the network. For this reason, the electrical energy produced passes through a transformation center where it is adapted to the intensity and voltage conditions of the transport lines for use in the consumption centers.
What impact do they have on the environment?
At the environmental level, photovoltaic solar plants have a number of advantages:
It is a renewable and sustainable energy system.
They do not depend on fossil sources.
They do not emit greenhouse gases.
Low production of waste and polluting discharges during the exploitation phase.
However, photoelectric plants also have environmental impacts:
Impact on the mobility of fauna.
Biotope occupation condition. A biotope is an area of uniform environmental conditions that provides vital space for a set of flora and fauna.
A photovoltaic plant is a nuclear power installation dedicated to the generation of electricity. In these cases, electricity is supplied directly to the electricity grid.
The high installed powers imply the installation of a large number of solar panels.