Examples of how to use photovoltaics (PV)
This page explains where photovoltaics (PV) can be installed, what types of PV are available, and some of the more detailed considerations for managing installation and maintenance.
PV arrays are available in a range of designs, to suit different uses. They can be supplied as modules to be bolted onto the roof or facade of a building. In the case of new build or roof replacement, they can be integrated in the building fabric. Options include:
- solar roof tiles or other laminated roofing materials with a PV layer
- incorporating cells into glazing
- cells on shading devices, such as louvres
- panels installed on dedicated, free-standing frames, masts, or other suitable structures.
PV is used at a range of scales, from devices like solar powered mobile phone chargers and small modules used for street lighting and road signs, to building integrated or stand alone systems. Some examples of typical systems are provided below.
Social housing, estate, private housing, blocks of flats/ 1 to 3kW (per home)/ 6 to 27m 2 / roof-mounted modules per home.
PV panels on new development
PV panels fitted on Croftlands Estate in Kirklees Council
Civic centre, local depot, office buildings/ varies depending on roof space and budget/ 6 to 9m 2 per kW.
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Disused land, outdoor car parks/ 5MW/ 5 to 10 hectares.
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Types of PV
The following types of PV cells are available:
- made from slices of single crystals of silicon.
- the most efficient at converting sunlight to electricity
- more expensive than the alternatives
- more energy is used in their production.
- made from many smaller pieces of silicon crystal
- manufacturing process is cheaper and less complex, but reduces efficiency.
Thin film (amorphous)
- made by depositing a thin layer of silicon atoms on a surface, usually metal or glass
- the cheapest and most versatile type of PV
- suited to the UK's defuse light but they are least efficient.
7 February 2011