Electrical energy from sunlight: Generated without risk and emission-free, useable worldwide without limitations, inexhaustible and available to an extent that exceeds the global energy requirements many times over – an ideal form of energy?
The advantages of photovoltaic electricity generation are undisputed. Its costs have been rapidly reduced in recent decades. In the context of climate protection, it is imperative that this renewable source of energy is disseminated worldwide. Indeed, this technology already provides about 3 % of the electricity generated worldwide. In Germany, in 2019 the share of PV energy exceeded 8 %, for 2020, experts expect about 10 %. On sunny working days, PV power can provide up to 45 %, on Sundays and public holidays up to 60 % of our electrical energy.
However, in order for PV to take on an even more important role in the provision of energy, several challenges still have to be overcome. On the one hand, the costs of solar power need to be further reduced by improving efficiency and longevity, and on the other hand it is necessary to overcome the dependence on the seasonal and daily course of the sun and the respective weather conditions which means that solar power supplies and demands frequently do not match. Developing solutions for this is one of ZSW’s main research tasks.
ZSW's research and business activities in the photovoltaics (PV) field range from materials research (development and optimisation of materials and manufacturing processes for thin-film solar cells) to system technology (quality of the PV modules and systems, the ZSW PV module test laboratory Solab and our Widderstall outdoor testing facility) and testing modules and systems in the laboratory and outdoors on ZSW’s own test field. Other activities include consulting services (output and yield forecasts, due diligence reports and factory inspections), aspects concerned with integrating solar power into the grid and the development of the smart grid (self-consumption of solar power, charging strategies for PV storage systems, etc.).