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Solar plants

The sun’s photovoltaic and thermodynamic powers. Here’s how solar power stations produce renewable energy.

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At a solar plant, the sun’s energy is channeled and used to produce renewable energy. There are two types of solar power stations: photovoltaic and thermodynamic/concentrated.

Photovoltaic plants

Photovoltaic plants take advantage of the photovoltaic effect to produce electricity, i.e. the ability of some semiconductor materials (when properly handled) to generate electricity when exposed to light rays.

Photovoltaic power stations have a large number of electrically interconnected photovoltaic modules that make up so-called strings, which are connected to each other in parallel as well as to an inverter to supply electric current.

Solar radiation is captured by all the solar panels in a power station’s photovoltaic array. The inverter transforms the continuous current produced by the solar panels into an alternating current so that it can be converted by a transformer into a medium voltage current. A control system monitors the power station’s operations and connects it to the electric grid to make the resulting green energy available to others.

Thermodynamic solar plants

There aren’t any solar panels at a thermodynamic plant, also known as a concentrated solar power station. Instead, there are mirrors that concentrate the sun’s rays in a precise point called a receiver, which contains a heat-carrying liquid that stores and transports the sun’s heat.

The heat transforms the receiver liquid into steam, which is channeled through a piping system in order to power a turbine. The mechanical energy produced by the turbine is then transmitted to an alternator that transforms it into electricity. 

Photovoltaic cells

Solar energy comes alive inside just a few square centimeters of silicon, the photovoltaic cell.

Find out more

Photovoltaic module

Photovoltaic modules are made up of a mosaic of solar cells. Here is a description of their main features and of Enel Green Power’s innovative solution.

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