What is a solar plant?

A solar plant is a technical plant for converting solar energy into another form of energy. The term ‘solar power plant’ is used when kinetic energy is used in the energy conversion chain, i.e. when a solar plant uses moving parts (e.g. a turbine, generator or a motor) to convert solar energy into electricity.

Solar plants can be divided into three different categories based on the way they work and the form of the energy that they produce: 

  • Smaller thermal solar plants deliver thermal energy in lower temperature ranges that is mainly used directly in households (e.g. solar panels, solar cookers).
  • Thermal solar power plants also deliver heat, but at a much larger, industrial scale. This also generally entails much higher temperatures.  The heat is usually converted into electricity (e.g. solar tower power plants). The thermal energy can also be used in other ways such as in chemical processes, for example.
  • Photovoltaic systems deliver electrical power (DC) that is usually then fed into a power grid (AC) via an inverter.

Photovoltaic systems convert the electromagnetic spectrum from our sun “directly” into electrical power using semi-conductive layers. These layers can be extremely thin. The solar cells (grouped into modules) that separate positive and negative charges when hit by the photons in the sun’s radiation form the core of the system. Add in an electricity conducting connection between the charging zones and the power will begin to flow. The power that is generated can then be used directly, stored in solar batteries, or fed into the public power grid with the help of inverters. Systems with a peak output of several megawatts are currently being built and operated.

Source: Translated from German: Wikipedia / TAUBER-SOLAR

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