Glossary

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  • Air Mass

    When the sun is in a vertical position, the sunlight takes the shortest path through the earth’s atmosphere. However, when the sun is positioned at a flat angle, the distance increases by the air mass (AM) factor. This causes a lower radiation intensity and a modified spectral (colour) composition of the sunlight. Outside the atmosphere, AM 0 applies, at a vertical position of the sun AM 1 (= simple atmospheric thickness). For Europe, the annual mean of AM 1.5 is used.

  • Alternating current

    Electric current that continually changes its direction. Typical house current changes its direction 100 times per second (50 Hz) and has a nominal voltage of 230 V. The voltage runs sinusoidally. The normal three-phase system consists of 3x 230 leading external conductors. While a house connection is usually single-phase, i.e. with a current-carrying conductor, large customers are supplied with three-phase current to reduce conduction losses.

  • Amorphous silicon

    Amorphous silicon is used as the active material in thin-layered solar cells. Unlike monocrystalline or polycrystalline silicon, the atoms atoms are not arranged in a regular crystalline lattice, but irregular without structure. Amorphous silicon cells are vapour-deposited on glass or on a metal film as a substrate material in multiple layers.

  • Ampere

    Unit of measurement of electrical current.

  • Angle of inclination

    The angle of inclination describes the angle between the solar module and the horizontal. The optimal angle of inclination for photovoltaic systems depends on latitude

  • Anti-reflection layer

    Light that is reflected from a solar cell, can not contribute to power generation. In order to minimize reflection losses, an anti-reflection layer is applied to the solar cells on the front side. This thin layer gives the cells its blue colour. Other colours are possible, but then the anti-reflective effect and thus the efficiency of the cells worsen.

  • Associations

    VDE    Association for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies
    VBN    Rules of the supply grid operator
    TAB    Technical connection conditions
    VDS    Association of Property Insurers
    BGV    Professional Association Prescriptions and Rules
    DGS    German Society for Solar Energy

  • Azimuth

    The azimuth is the angle of deviation of the generator surface facing south. In solar technology, the azimuth angle is fixed at 0° for the south. The angular deviation to the west is positive, negative to the east.

  • Block casting method

    The most frequently used method for producing polycrystalline silicon is the block casting method. In the process, silicon is melted in a vacuum and then controlled cooled down. Silicon blocks of 40 x 40 cm and 30 cm high are produced. The blocks are then cut into rods and sawed in thick slices of 0.3 mm.

  • Bypass diode

    The bypass diode directs the module current to pass the shaded shaded solar cell and thus prevents the affected cell to heat up (hot spot) and be destroyed. The largest shading tolerance has been achieved when a bypass diode is connected across each cell. In practice, however, for engineering and manufacturing reasons usually every bypass diode is used for every 18 and 20 cells connected in series.

  • Cadmium telluride

    Thin film solar cells are made from the semiconductor cadmium telluride. The cells are applied to a carrier glass.

  • Cell encapsulation

    In the encapsulation with composite materials (typically ethylene-vinyl acetate, EVA), the solar cells are assembled in a vacuum chamber under the influence of negative pressure at an elevated temperature to form a laminate. The EVA melts during this so-called vacuum laminating method and encloses the solar cells on all sides. The EVA requires a UV resistant weather protection front side. In most cases this is a tempered glass sheet made of highly transparent white glass. The rear end enclosure may consist of a conventional tempered glass sheet or a high-strength film such as Tedlar film, for example. In addition to EVA encapsulation, there are still two other methods, namely Teflon encapsulation and casting resin encapsulation.

  • Characteristic curve

    Characteristic curves are diagrams that demonstrate the electrical performance of a solar cell or a solar module. In the current-voltage characteristic curve, the solar energy is applied in dependence of the solar voltage. Important characteristics of solar cells can be determined graphically or calculated.

  • CIS

    See copper-inidium-diselenide

  • Copper indium diselenide

    As an active semiconductor material for CIS, thin-layered solar cells are used besides the original copper-indium-diselenide also compounds with sulfur or gallium.

  • Current

    Designation for the flow of electrical charges in a conductor. The unit of measurement for current is ampere (unit symbol A).

  • Czochralski process (also crucible drawing process)

    For the production of monocrystalline (= monocrystalline) silicon, the Czochralski process established itself. In this method, a silicon seed crystal is immersed in a silicon melt and pulled up under slow rotation. At the same time round mono-crystals with 30 cm diameter and several meters of long are produced, which are drawn to almost quadratic rods and then cut to discs with a thickness of 0.3 mm.

  • Degree of efficiency of facility

    The ratio of the produced electrical energy by a photovoltaic facility to the irradiated solar energy onto the entire solar generator surface in a given period (year, month, day)

  • Direct current

    Electrical current in which the electrons move in one direction only. Direct current is emitted by batteries and solar panels.

  • Doping

    Doping is the deliberate contamination of semiconductors, in order to improve the electrical conductivity for positive charges (p-doped) or negative charges (n-doped). Foreign atoms are introduced into the material.

  • Efficiency

    Losses occur during each energy conversion. The efficiency of a solar cell or solar module describes what fraction of the sunlight that falls on the solar cell or module is converted into electrical power.

  • EFG procedure (edge defined film-fed growth)

    In the EFG process an octagonal shape-bound carrier of graphite is dipped into the silicon melt and then pulled high, i.e. out of the melt. Subsequently, 4m long octagonal tubes with 10 cm side length and a side thickness of just 0.3 mm. The silicon disks must then only be cut from the planar surfaces with the aid of a laser.

  • Electric field

    An electric field exerts a charge/force on the charge carriers. Positive and negative charges move in opposite directions in the electric field. In solar cells, the combination of a p-doped layer generates an electric field.

  • Energy yield

    An electric field exerts a charge/force on the charge carriers. Positive and negative charges move in opposite directions in the electric field. In solar cells, the combination of a p-doped layer generates an electric field.

  • Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA characters)

    Film material made of plastic. In the production of solar modules, the solar cells are embedded in EVA film. At a temperature of 150°C the film melts, becomes crystal clear and is three-dimensionally cross-linked. Upon cooling , a durable composite is created that protects the solar cells from environmental influences.

  • Extra-low voltage

    For extra-low voltage protection, the maximum DC voltage of 120 V, i.e. the maximum AC voltage of 50 V is not to be exceeded. These voltages are not life-threatening to humans.

  • Global radiation

    As global radiation is designated the complete impinging radiation on a horizontal surface. It is composed of the direct and diffuse radiation. During clear skies, global radiation consists almost entirely of direct, diffuse radiation during cloudy skies

  • Hot-spot effect

    Under certain operating conditions, a disconnected solar cell may heat up so much that the cell material can be damaged. It forms a so-called hot spot (hot spot). This occurs when a high reverse current flows through the non-illuminated solar cell. Bypass diodes protect solar modules from hot spots.

  • Hybrid system

    Hybrid systems are a combination of two or more different energy sources. A hybrid photovoltaic system therefore consists of the photovoltaic generator and an additional energy source (e.g. wind generator, diesel generator)

  • Intensity

    The (radiation) intensity corresponds to the irradiation. It describes the radiant power incident per area and is measured in w/m2.

  • International protection (IP)

    International protection. Protection against physical contact, intrusion of foreign objects and water
    First digit: IP 0X
    contact protection   ( personal protection )
    foreign object protection ( for equipment )

    Second digit: IPX0
    Water protection
    IP 68 means therefore wire protection, dust-proof for the first digit protection against long periods of immersion second digit

  • Inverter

    The inverter is the link between the PV generator and the AC alternative current supplier network. Its basic task is to transform the generated solar DC current by the PV generator into AC current and to feed this into the interconnected grid.

  • IP degree of protection

    The IP degree of protection indicates the extent to which a device is protected by its design against the ingress of dust and water. IP xx offers no protection, IP 68 is completely dustproof and waterproof. For outdoor use, the degree of protection IP 54 is minimum requirement.

  • Kilowatt peak

    The unit kWp describes the peak power of a solar cell or module. The peak power corresponds to a MPP performance under standard test conditions (STC).

  • Kilowatt-hour (characters kWh)

    The kWh is a unit of energy. A kWh describes a power of 1,000 watts over a period of one hour: 1 kWh = 1.000 Wh = 3.600 kJ.

  • Laminate

    A laminate is the composite of front glass, solar cells, EVA and back-side film. Frameless glass-film modules are referred to as laminate.

  • Maximum Power Point (Characters MPP)

    The current-voltage characteristic curve describes all possible operating states of a solar cell or a module. There is exactly one point at which the power (= current x voltage) reaches a peak value. This point is called MPP. Depending on the irradiation and temperature, the voltage varies at which the maximum power is delivered.

  • Mismatching

    Due to production tolerances, the module current differs by up to 10% on the data sheet information. In the solar generator are usually several modules connected in series, which deliver various currents. The smallest current takes on the form of a continuous flow, so that other modules can no longer emit their full power. The resulting losses are called mismatching losses.

  • Monocrystalline silicon (monocrystalline silicon)

    Monocrystalline silicon solar cells consist of a single crystal. Identification of crystals are atoms arranged in a regular lattice. The production of silicon single crystals usually takes place by the Czochralski process.

  • Monolithic series connection

    In thin-layer modules applied technology, so as to divide a module in a plurality of solar cells. In this way, the individual layers are divided during the production process using mechanical scribing or laser beams into narrow strips.

  • MPP tracking (German MPP-Regelung)

    In order for the solar panels to always give the largest output, the inverter must continually adjust that voltage at which the modules have their MPP under the prevailing weather conditions.

  • Network coupling

    Connection of decentralized power generators such as for example, solar power systems, to the public power grid to feed the energy generated.

  • Nominal power

    It describes the maximum power output (MPP power) of a photovoltaic module in standard test conditions. The nominal power is given in watts peak.

  • Partial load

    The solar generator rarely produces its rated power. Usually, depending on the current exposure, a lower performance is produced. The entire system, and in particular the inverter, then operates in the partial load range.

  • Performance Ratio

    (abbr. PR). For the estimation of the system a location-independent measure, the so-called performance ratio (PR) is used. It is obtained from the ratio of the actual energy supplied to the theoretical energy yield Ereal to the theoretical energy yield Eideal of the photovoltaic generator. In contrast to Eideal, with Ereal are all the losses and deviations from the nominal conditions (STC) taken into account.

  • Photovoltaics

    (abbr. PV). The word Photovoltaic is a combination of the Greek word for light and the name of the physicist Alessandro Volta, after whom the unit of measure of electrical voltage is named. It refers to the conversion of sunlight into electrical energy using solar cells.

  • Polycrystalline silicon

    The material forms many individual crystals during manufacture. Due to the different reflection of light the individual crystals at the surface can be recognized because of the frostwork structure. The current manufacturing processes for polycrystalline are the silicon ingot casting procedure and the EFG procedure.

  • Power

    Power is energy spent per unit of time or energy made available. The unit is watts (W) or kilowatts (kW): 1 kW = 1.000 W.

  • Protection class
    Grounded conductor protection Class I

    Protection isolation Protection class II

    Protection extra-low voltage Protection class III

    Isolation resistance 0.5 ohm

    Isolation resistance 2.0 ohm

    Isolation resistance 0.25M ohm

  • Protection class II

    Electrical equipment of protection class II (protective insulation) are double or reinforced insulation, so that people are protected against electric shock.

  • Radiation intensity

    This is the surface-related radiation power of the the sun. It is measured in W/m2.

  • Relative mass of air (air mass AM)

    The ratio of the solar radiation actually continuous atmospheric mass (optical thickness) The minimum possible mass of the atmosphere at sea level. A favourable average for Europe was adopted at 1.5. In the mountains, e.g. in the Alps in summer, the AM numbers.

  • Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG)

    The EEG prescribes operators to preferably take electricity from renewable energy sources and to pay a minimum price per kWh for it. To be accountable for the different electricity generation costs for example for wind and hydro power, biomass and photovoltaics, the amount and duration of feed-in tariffs are regulated differently. The amount of the feed-in tariff is reduced each year to exert pressure on the market and the investment costs.

  • Semiconductor

    Semiconductors are materials that are conductive only above a certain temperature or supply of light. The possibility to change the conductivity of a semiconductor by doping makes it interesting for electrical components (e.g. transistors, diodes and solar cells). In semiconductors, a conversion of solar energy into electric current is possible.

  • Short-circuit current (characters IK)

    The short-circuit current is the largest current of a solar cell and a solar module. It flows, when the positive and negative connections are short-circuited, i.e. connected together without a consumer/load in between.

  • Solar cell

    Solar cells are the smallest unit of the photovoltaic system. They are combined in modules to larger units ready for connection.

  • Solar cell efficiency NPV

    Ratio of the peak performance of a solar cell to the radiant power incident on the entire module surface. The solar cell efficiency decreases slightly at lower irradiance and higher temperatures.

  • Solar constant

    The solar constant is the irradiance at the top edge of the atmosphere. It amounts to an average of 1,367 W/m2.

  • Solar generator

    The umbrella designation for all modules of a photovoltaic system is (solar) generator.

  • Solar module

    A solar module consists of multiple interconnected solar cells. Between two sheets of glass or between glass and back of the film, cells are encapsulated weather resistant and mechanically stable. Solar modules are offered with a metal frame.

  • Solar module efficiency

    Ratio of the peak power of a solar module to the radiant power incident on the entire module surface including the framework.

  • Stand-alone power system

    No network connection is active for stand-alone systems. Therefore one needs no inverter, when no AC power is required, for converting network-compliant alternating current (230v/50 hz), but can use the DC current directly. Should, independent of sunshine, energy be available then batteries take over the storage.

  • String

    A series circuit consisting of a plurality of solar cells or solar modules is referred to as a string.

  • String diodes

    A string diode prevents that the modules of the string in the event of a malfunction can be operated in the reverse flow region.

  • String fuse

    Protection against unwanted return flowing of current, which endangers the modules and the wiring harness is easily made possible by using a direct-current suited fuse.

  • System efficiency

    The system efficiency describes the efficiency of the complete photovoltaic system. In the process, all components of the photovoltaic system are taken into account together with their losses. It is derived from the ratio of solar yield to incident solar energy on the appropriate generator area.

  • Temperature coefficient

    For the most important electrical parameters of a module, the datasheet specifies temperature coefficient. These describe how much current, voltage and power decrease per degree Celsius (with a negative temperature coefficient) or increase (positive coefficient) when the temperature increases.

  • Thin-film cells

    Thin film cells are about a hundred time thinner than a crystalline silicon cells. The photo active semiconductors are applied as thin layers on glass, but also on metal foil or plastic foil. For this purpose,conventional industrial coating procedures are used, for example, an evaporation procedure or electrolytic baths that require temperatures between 200 and 500° C. As cell material, amorphous silicon, copper-inidium-diselenide (CIS) or cadmium-telluride (cdte) are used.

  • Volt (V)

    Mass unit of electric voltage.

  • Voltage (U character)

    Between two points with different electrical charges (e.g. B. positive and negative terminals of a battery), there is a potential difference, the electrical voltage. Your unit of measure is volt (unit symbol V).

    Standard test conditions (STC, German Standard-Test-Bedingungen)

    In order to compare different cells or photovoltaic modules with each other, uniform laboratory conditions have been specified for measuring the electrical data. These standard test conditions refer to irradiation of 1,000 W/m2, a cell temperature of 25°C and a spectrum of AM 1.5.

  • Watt (W)

    Unit for performance. For solar cells and solar modules the peak power is usually specified in Watt peak (Wp) or kilowatt peak (kWp). P= U x I

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