Pho­to­voltaics Clean elec­tric­ity from sun­light

Producing light from light sounds strange at first. But solar luminaires, even in moderate climates, make perfect sense.

Our sun is with­out a doubt the most impor­tant source of energy for all life on earth: its light warms the atmos­phere, and enables the pho­to­syn­the­sis of algae and plants, it drives the water cycle, our weather and the wind. What could be more nat­ural than to use this inex­haustible and free source of energy in tech­ni­cal solu­tions? It takes the sun just a few min­utes to trans­mit as much energy to the earth as all of human­ity con­sumes in an entire year. Solar energy thus offers a promis­ing option to cover our civilisation’s energy needs in a solu­tion that is in har­mony with the envi­ron­ment and nature.

The chal­lenge lies in cap­tur­ing this energy, exploit­ing it tech­ni­cally and stor­ing it, because the fluc­tu­a­tion in light inten­sity during the course of the day is out of kilter with man’s energy require­ments. The best exam­ple of this is arti­fi­cial light­ing that is needed at night, pre­cisely when the sun doesn’t shine.

Sus­tain­abil­ity in a nut­shell. Aes­thetic and effi­cient

South­ern Europe is part of the ​“solar belt”: The regions that are ide­ally suited for solar energy due to their abun­dance of sun­shine. Selux solar lumi­naires, which are already estab­lished in South­ern Europe, are also ide­ally suited for the use in North­ern and Cen­tral Europe thanks to their effec­tive­ness and intel­li­gence as more energy is usu­ally gen­er­ated than is required. Our solar lumi­naires have an intel­li­gent con­trol system for light and bat­tery. In the months with less sun­light, a microcontroller’s algo­rithm ensures opti­mum energy man­age­ment.

Selux solar lumi­naires have a mod­u­lar design and can be oper­ated com­pletely inde­pen­dently: elec­tric­ity and devel­op­ment costs are elim­i­nated and instal­la­tion is quick and hassle-free for the sur­round­ing area. This makes the new lumi­naires par­tic­u­larly suit­able for appli­ca­tions where there is no power grid and envi­ron­ments that are sen­si­tive to inter­ven­tions – such as parks, cycle paths and hiking trails, remote bus stops or car parks, nature reserves, projects with an eco­log­i­cal role model char­ac­ter, tem­po­rary areas of use and for munic­i­pal­i­ties that want to become cli­mate-neu­tral.



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Lukida 4000–P200-160 Solar light column

Series Overview

Lukida 4000–P100-160 Solar light column

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Anatar 4000-P100-160 Solar pole luminaire

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Anatar 4000-P200-215 Solar pole luminaire

Series Overview

Anatar 8000-P200-215 Solar pole luminaire double

Series Overview

How do pho­to­voltaics work?

Solar cells are based on the pho­to­elec­tric effect that was dis­cov­ered by the French physi­cist Alexan­dre Edmond Bec­querel in 1839, which inter­ested many other great researchers includ­ing Hein­rich Hertz, his stu­dent Wil­helm Hallwachs and even Albert Ein­stein. In 1907, Ein­stein sub­mit­ted a quan­tum theory expla­na­tion as to why light gen­er­ates elec­tri­cal charges in cer­tain mate­ri­als. But it wasn’t until the 1950s that Amer­i­can lab­o­ra­to­ries pro­duced the first solar cells made from the semi-con­duc­tor sil­i­con with an elec­tri­cal output that could be used in a tech­ni­cal appli­ca­tion. In this case, the emerg­ing aero­space indus­try, but also as a decen­tralised power supply for tele­phone ampli­fiers, for exam­ple. The same elec­tric­ity that solar cells gen­er­ate can be used imme­di­ately, stored in bat­ter­ies or trans­formed into alter­nat­ing cur­rent and fed into the grid.

Sil­i­con as base mate­r­ial

Sil­i­con, the mate­r­ial used in most of today’s solar cells, is a semi-con­duc­tor. This raw mate­r­ial is common in the earth’s crust in the form of sil­i­con diox­ide (quartz, sand), making it avail­able in almost unlim­ited quan­ti­ties. Monocrys­talline, poly­crys­talline and amor­phous sil­i­con can be pro­duced from high purity sil­i­con. These base mate­ri­als are in turn used to pro­duce solar cells with vary­ing prop­er­ties. Solar cells made from amor­phous sil­i­con offer low effi­ciency at a cor­re­spond­ingly low cost; solar cells made from monocrys­talline sil­i­con may be more costly, but they are also more effi­cient. The right cell type depends on the spe­cific appli­ca­tion. Lumi­naires with a decen­tralised power supply require a com­pact design and high effi­ciency, which is why hei solar lumi­naires from Selux use highly effi­cient solar cells gen­er­ally made from monocrys­talline sil­i­con.

Nom­i­nal power and yield

The nom­i­nal power of pho­to­voltaic instal­la­tions is mea­sured in Wp (Watt-peak). Wp refers to the per­for­mance under test con­di­tions that approx­i­mate the max­i­mum solar radi­a­tion in Ger­many. These stan­dard test con­di­tions (STC), used to com­pare dif­fer­ent solar mod­ules, are defined as a cell tem­per­a­ture of 25°C, radi­a­tion of 1000W/​m² and an air mass of 1.5. A typ­i­cal PV-instal­la­tion on the roof of a family home (with 40m²) yields around 4 – 5kWp; the PV cells on a hei-solar lumi­naire from Selux have nom­i­nal power rat­ings in the range of 100 to 250Wp. Pho­to­voltaics are ide­ally suited to regions within what we call the solar belt, where there are high levels of solar radi­a­tion irre­spec­tive of the season. These include south­ern areas of Europe and North Amer­ica, Cen­tral and South Amer­ica, Africa, Asia and Aus­tralia. Pho­to­voltaics are also a cost-effi­cient alter­na­tive in neigh­bour­ing regions such as Cen­tral Europe, as has been demon­strated in recent decades. Sev­eral cities and regions in Ger­many and else­where are record­ing pho­to­voltaic yields in solar land reg­is­ters.

Finan­cial fea­si­bil­ity

Solar power is not only sus­tain­able from an eco­log­i­cal point of view, it is now also finan­cially com­pet­i­tive. Over recent decades, tech­ni­cal advances have improved the per­for­mance of solar cells, as well as other system com­po­nents such as invert­ers, con­trol and charg­ing elec­tron­ics and bat­tery stor­age. At the same time, the eco­nom­ics of scal­ing pro­duc­tion mean costs have fallen con­sid­er­ably: solar cell prices today are 90% lower than in 2010. In many regions with cor­re­spond­ing light inten­sity, pho­to­voltaics are already con­sid­ered the cheap­est way to gen­er­ate elec­tric­ity. In appli­ca­tions such as making road or path light­ing self-suf­fi­cient (»off-grid«), addi­tional fac­tors pos­i­tively impact eco­nomic effi­ciency and the eco­log­i­cal bal­ance sheet: not only are there no elec­tric­ity costs per se, nei­ther are there any line charges or wiring instal­la­tion costs.

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