Solar

Photovoltaic Power Generation in Times of the Coronavirus

While the worldwide pandemic shocks with more distressing news every day, here some good news for a change: Air pollution in metropoles dropped and clear skies all around the world allow us to mark a new record in photovoltaic power.

The Coronavirus changes our everyday life entirely as schools must close, business is forced to shut down and people cannot go after their habits anymore. Streets and cities are swept empty and the usual traffic jam is from the old days.

Solar in New York City

Due to these enormous changes in human behavior, air pollution dropped significantly in metropoles where a load of PM2.5 (fine particle pollution) is historically considerably high. As a direct consequence of the lockdown metropoles like Delhi, Seoul or Mumbai showed a reduction of particulate matter up to 60% compared to the same period in 2019. Satellites also showed cleaner air over Canada and the USA. New York City recorded a decline of 50% of the toxic carbon monoxide compared to the average mean of 2019.

Photovoltaic power plants in Germany establish a new record in solar power generation

In pre-pandemic times, so studies showed, China lost about 13% of its photovoltaic potential slipping away due to anthropogenic emissions and air pollution. This percentage is equivalent to 14 Tera-Watt hours per year, enough to supply the whole city of Philadelphia with power for longer than 6 months.

Because of the change in human behavior and therefore the absence of extreme anthropogenic emissions in the last weeks air pollution dropped and skies cleared up. At the current moment, solar power plants are producing more power watt than ever. As a consequence of the clean air but also the sunny and cloudless weather, on April 20, Germanys photovoltaic power plants produced 32 227 MW, establishing a new record.

Because of new photovoltaic installations every spring, peaks of solar yield are not unusual at this time of year. Still, the Corona-clean-air is the factor that maximizes photovoltaic power generation to this high number. This once again shows us that renewables and especially solar energy are a future-proof solution and winners even in the Corona-crisis.

Do you want to be a part of it?

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Does Solar Make Sense For My Seasonal Home?

If you own a holiday home or a seasonal home, you might ask yourself: Does it make sense to install a solar system there?

We say: Yes of course! Find out why.

solar on seasonal holiday home

Why solar makes sens on a seasonal home

Your solar system produces electricity. Whether on your main house, your summer or winter house, your barn, … And it does that no matter if you are around or not at home. The difference is that when you are home, you use electricity. When you’re not there, you don’t use it. The excess electricity is then fed back into the grid.

Unused energy goes back into the power grid

The net-metering takes place monthly. But you can have the electricity fed back into the grid credited to you. So if the solar system produces more electricity than you use in a month, this amount is carried over to a month in which you use more electricity than the system produced.

A solar system is cost efficient

The homeowner’s usage pattern has no impact on cost efficiency, so homeowners who live in the house mainly during the cloudy winter months still save the same amount of energy on an annual basis as homeowners who live there during the summer months.

Save monthly costs

The great opportunity to be able to sell back additional electricity when it is not needed and buy additional electricity when it is needed makes photovoltaic economically more affordable. But don’t just think about it and stop speculating. We would be happy to look at your individual case, come by to get an idea of your options and then show you what they are! Make your seasonal home green with solar and save money.

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Funny Reasons Why a Solar Panel Does Not Work

Why does my solar system not work? Why am I shown a single panel as inactive? Help – is something broken!?

Sometimes it happens that individual solar panels stop working. If you have an IGS system, for example, you can track this very accurately with our app. There, every single solar panel is shown and errors are displayed. We also have access to it and control the systems we install on a regular basis to be able to react as fast as possible if something does not work as it should. But what are the reasons? It could of course be a technical defect or an immense amount of snow that does not let light through. However, our experience is that panels are often shown as inactive due to other funny or interesting events.

A forgotten board...

Once, when inspecting a system, we discovered that exactly one single solar panel did not work. All others were intact. During an on-site visit, it turned out that our customer had placed a wooden board on the solar panel. The system was a ground installation and he just wanted to put the board down for a moment – and then forgot to take it away again.

...and winter active squirrels

Fortunately early enough. Only a few things needed to be replaced. A critter fence is now making sure that the little rodent will move back to the trees again in the future. Our thanks goes to Eva, who told us her solar squirrel story and sent us a picture.

When a wooden board can cause excitement, then squirrels do so even more. So it already happened that a squirrel has established a nest under the solar system on a roof. It is certainly cosy and well protected from wind and weather. This would probably not be a problem, but it also enjoyed nibbling on the cables. Two panels switched off and that’s how it first became noticeable.

Does a Solar System Also Produce Energy in Winter?

Question Number 1: Does my solar system also produce energy in winter?

When the days get shorter and the sun shines less, the productivity, of course, decreases a bit, let’s not fool ourselves. But you don’t have to live in Florida or California to produce your own solar energy. First of all, the days with less sunshine are limited to a few months. In these few months, there is usually no continuous snow. And even on cloudy days, your system can produce energy. You also have to see it from the other side: if you live further north and therefore further away from the equator, the days in summer are all longer and therefore also the time in which the solar system can produce power.

The answer to this question is: yes!
solar system in snow winter

Question Number 2: Does my solar system also produce energy when it snows?

If the solar panels are covered with snow, they do not produce. However, snow usually doesn’t stay on the panels for long. They shed the snow very well because they are designed to attract the heat of the sun, usually, they are laid out in the direction of the sun and mounted down. All this helps free the panels from snow more quickly. In addition, the sunlight can also shine through smaller amounts of snow, so even a thin layer of snow on the panel can generate energy. In general: Attention! Please do not remove the snow yourself. This can damage the panels and that would be a real shame.

The answer to this question is: as long as there is sunlight shining through the snow, the panels will produce energy.

Question Number 3: What about the productivity of my panels when it's freezing cold?

The cold doesn’t bother the solar system. You have to know that solar energy is not produced by the heat of the sun, but by its light. Energy production is more efficient at colder temperatures, so the amount of electricity produced daily can be increased despite less sunlight during the day.

The answer to this question is: the productivity of the panels is not negatively affected by the cold.
solar system panel with snow

Question Number 4: Why does a solar system generate energy more efficiently when it is colder?

Now it’s getting a little more scientific, but we’re trying to explain it in a simple way. Electrons move around atoms. If it’s cooler they don’t move. But they are activated by increasing sunlight because it means energy. The resulting difference in voltage makes a solar module produce more energy. In summer, however, when it is warmer, the total energy level of the electrons is higher. The energy difference is, therefore, smaller and less energy is produced. The amount of sunlight hitting a solar system is not affected by the outside temperature. However, the latter has an influence on how much energy is produced in the solar cells. So that means: If the solar radiation duration on day A and day B is the same, but the temperature is different, more energy is produced on the colder day.

Another fact: depending on a so-called peak temperature, the manufacturers of solar panels evaluate the output. This is the moment when the panels work most efficiently. If the temperature rises above this point, the system is less efficient and generates less energy. The probability that this point will be reached in winter is therefore much less likely.

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Floatovoltaics, a New Adaption

The implementation of these systems can also improve the ecosystems in which they are situated. It is possible for these systems to serve a dual purpose as a habitat for endangered species and provide energy for human consumption.

How much would it really benefit humans?

Floatovoltaics are an adaptation that can significantly increase energy production. The water acts as a cooling mechanism for the solar panels, making the whole system increasingly efficient and cost-effective. The water also cleans the panels to prevent dust accumulation and reduced efficiency.

Why are people excited about it?

Floatovoltaics is a colossal adaptation to the growing energy crisis as well as the depletion of land resources. The oceans are rising with the enduring effects of global climate change. People are excited because floatovoltaics offers the opportunity to use the current situation that humanity has created to possibly change the direction of the future.

Floating solar, or “floatovoltaics,” is exactly as it sounds – solar panels situated on a body of water. What’s the point of this invention? Land is a valuable resource, and humankind is quickly taking advantage of its benefits. Floatovoltaics are an adaptation to this development and create renewable energy while not using the land.

Floatovoltaics floating solar panels

What happens if there is a storm?

The simple fact that water landscapes can undergo harsh conditions was considered when designing the floatovoltaic systems. An installation in the Netherlands withstood a cyclone with winds up to 71 miles per hour and waves of over 16 feet in height.

How does it affect marine life?

Solar Inverters

What is a solar inverter?

A solar inverter is one of the most significant parts of a solar power system. A solar inverter converts the electricity generated by solar panels into usable electricity that can be used by homes. The excess electricity in your household is later fed into the grid or the home battery storage.

How do solar inverters work?

The process of collecting solar energy begins with the sun shining down onto your solar panels (photovoltaic cells). Electrons inside the solar panel cells to move, which creates energy. Circuits collect this energy and convert it into direct current (DC) electricity. The appliances with your household can only be run on alternating current (AC) electricity. A solar inverter receives direct current electricity (DC) and converts it to alternating current (AC) electricity.

Types of solar inverters

There are many different types of solar inverters available for residential use. The inverter you get is dependent on a variety of factors such as shade, the company you hire, and utility requirements within your area. When considering a solar system, one of the most important decisions to make is what type of solar inverter you need to install.

String inverters

String inverters are one of the most common and cost-effective options available. A single string connects a group of solar panels to a central inverter. The least productive solar panel in the system will produce electricity since the solar panels are all connected. String inverters benefit homes that have a simple solar installation and have a lot of access to sunlight. String inverters are known for their durability and easy maintenance. String inverters are not advantageous for homes with shading or panels facing different directions.

Microinverters

Microinverters are very small and are attached to each solar panel. These inverters are desirable for homes that have more shade and more complicated installations. This is because they optimize each solar panel, offering more energy. If a solar panel is not performing well, the other panels will continue operating efficiently. These inverters allow a homeowner to monitor the power production level for each solar panel. Microinverters are, however, a more expensive option for homeowners.

Optimized string inverters

Optimized string inverters are a hybrid version of both string inverters and microinverters. They are more expensive than string inverters but less expensive than microinverters. Optimized string inverters condition DC electricity and after sending it to the string inverter. The optimized inverters connect to each solar panel, which also allows you to monitor the power production level for each panel. These inverters are a good option for homeowners with shading and who are looking for a more cost-effective option.

Hybrid inverters

Hybrid inverters allow you to connect batteries to your solar system. This inverter combines a solar inverter (either string or optimized string inverters) and a battery inverter. Hybrid inverters are popular amongst homeowners looking for energy backup options because it is cheaper to install a battery. Homeowners who install a solar system with a traditional inverter and decide later to add a battery incur higher costs because a battery-specific inverter will also need to be added. However, getting a hybrid inverter will be less expensive. Many homeowners get a hybrid inverter without batteries in anticipation of getting them later in the future.

Do you want to know which solar inverter is right for you? Sign up with us today and we will help you with everything you need to know!

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What is the Electric Grid?

The electric grid refers to the utility companies power lines. When referring to "grid" we are referring to their power lines.

Other ways to reference the power "grid" in solar: 

  • Grid
  • Utility company
  • Energy supply lines (their power lines)

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