Solar Photovoltaic Systems

Solar photovoltaics formed the largest body of research among the seven sustainable energy types examined in a global bibliometric study, with the annual scientific output growing from 9,094 publications in 2011 to 14,447 publications in 2019.

Likewise, the application of solar photovoltaics is growing rapidly and worldwide installed capacity reached about 515 gigawatts (GW) by 2018. The total power output of the world’s PV capacity in a calendar year is now beyond 500 TWh of electricity. This represents 2% of worldwide electricity demand. More than 100 countries use solar PV. China is followed by the United States and Japan.

Photovoltaics (PV) is the conversion of light into electricity using semiconducting materials that exhibit the photovoltaic effect, a phenomenon studied in physics, photochemistry, and electrochemistry. The photovoltaic effect is commercially utilized for electricity generation and as photosensors.

A photovoltaic system employs solar modules, each comprising a number of solar cells, which generate electrical power. PV installations may be ground-mounted, rooftop-mounted, wall-mounted or floating. The mount may be fixed or use a solar tracker to follow the sun across the sky.

Some hope that photovoltaic technology will produce enough affordable sustainable energy to help mitigate global warming caused by CO2. Solar PV has specific advantages as an energy source: once installed, its operation generates no pollution and no greenhouse gas emissions, it shows simple scalability in respect of power needs and silicon has large availability in the Earth’s crust.

Photovoltaic systems have long been used in specialized applications as stand-alone installations and grid-connected PV systems have been in use since the 1990s

In 2019, worldwide installed PV capacity increased to more than 635 gigawatts (GW) covering approximately two percent of global electricity demand. After hydro and wind powers, PV is the third renewable energy source in terms of global capacity. In 2019 the International Energy Agency expected a growth by 700 – 880 GW from 2019 to 2024. In some instances, PV has offered the cheapest source of electrical power in regions with a high solar potential, with a bid for pricing as low as 0.01567 US$/kWh in Qatar in 2020.