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Are there different degrees of efficiency?

Basically, the efficiency describes the ratio between energy outputs and inputs. At its maximum, output can be as high as input, but never higher. The result is the fact that efficiencies cannot be larger than 1. (Instead of power, you can also express the relation between the energy released and the energy provided.)

In the case of solar electricity generation, one distinguishes between cell efficiency, module efficiency and system efficiency. In commercial mass production, a cell efficiency of up to 18.3 percent is currently obtained, depending on the technology that is used. Module efficiency relates to the entire module surface and is therefore always slightly lower than cell efficiency. This is partly due to the non-usable spaces between the arrays of solar cells in the module. System efficiency relates to the complete solar installation. Here there is another numerical drop in value when compared to the module efficiency, this being due to conductance losses, e.g., in cables.

The inverter also converts the direct current of the solar generator into alternating current with a certain degree of efficiency. In this context, two partial efficiencies play an important role: conversion efficiency and tracking efficiency, the second of which reflects the precision and quickness of the MPP tracking. At present, state-of-the-art devices reach total efficiencies of more than 98 percent.

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