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Solar Systems

Those who are on the move want to be self-sufficient and independent. Nevertheless, many devices in the motorhome need electricity, so it seems obvious to use the roof on the motorhome to generate it. The on-board battery can be refilled with a solar system. In addition, the energy of the sun is available free of charge. We provide answers to the questions of what is important when choosing the right solar system.

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Advantages and disadvantages of solar systems

Advantages

A) The origin of solar energy is infinitely available

B) Electricity and hot water are generated in a simple, environmentally friendly and environmentally friendly manner

C) Solar systems and photovoltaic systems have a manufacturer-guaranteed lifespan of more than 20 years

D) Solar systems are installed and connected quickly and easily

E) Solar energy is independent of fossil fuels

F) Short transport routes reduce high energy losses between companies and consumers

G) Consumers’ own energy generation makes them less dependent on the price specifications of the energy companies

H) Normally, the construction of a solar system does not require a building permit

I) Legally regulated funding opportunities and cheap financing offers from the credit institutions still make the investment in a solar system interesting

A) The origin of solar energy is infinitely available
As with the generation of energy from wind, water or biomass, solar energy is infinitely available in its origin from sunlight. The amount of sunlight is inexhaustible and can theoretically be stored and used indefinitely.

B) Electricity and hot water are generated in a simple, environmentally friendly and environmentally friendly manner
The manufacture, function and disposal of the individual components of a solar system must be considered – and every single point is equally environmentally friendly and environmentally friendly.

Manufacturing:

Over 95 percent of all solar systems are made from silicon, which is extracted from quartz sand and is abundant in the earth’s crust. The frames, elevations and electrical components are also made from recyclable material and are therefore not considered to be environmentally hazardous.

To date, the energy expenditure for production is often compared to the yield from using solar systems. The time that the system needs until its yield exceeds the amount of energy required to manufacture it is also called “energetic amortization”. The shorter this time, the better for the plant operator.

This value is made up of the cumulative energy expenditure for the manufacture of all individual components of the system – that is, starting with the extraction of raw materials and production to delivery – and the maintenance and operating expenses as well as the disposal of the solar modules.

Payback period for thermal solar systems

Taking all of these aspects into account, the payback period for systems for DHW heating is around one and a half years, combined systems for process water treatment and heating support have a value of around two to four years.

Payback period for photovoltaic systems

When determining the payback period of photovoltaic systems, the financial, the “monetary” factor is often calculated before the energy factor. To determine this value for photovoltaic systems, the amount of the feed-in tariff, the term, the acquisition costs and the annual energy yield are decisive. Without a loan, the monetary amortization here is around nine to eleven years, with a loan and the associated interest amounts, the value averages 13 to 16 years.

The energy-related amortization, i.e. the time in which the system’s yield exceeds the energy required for its production, is five years for monocrystalline solar cells. A plant with polycrystalline cell types, on the other hand, pays off after half the time. Thin-film modules top this value – their yield exceeds the energy expenditure for their efficient manufacturing method and the low consumption of raw materials after an average of one and a half years.

Function:

Both thermal solar systems and photovoltaic systems are absolutely climate-friendly in their similar mode of operation. There are no emissions, CO2 emissions or other environmentally harmful products – global warming is prevented by switching to renewable energy sources.

According to data from the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, the use of thermal and photovoltaic solar energy saved almost 5 million tons of CO2 emissions in 2009 alone. This reduced German emissions by more than 20%.

In thermal solar systems, well-suited copper pipes are usually used to transport the energy from the collector to the hot water tank for smaller systems (one or two families). Insulation materials used to avoid energy losses include foam rubber or mineral wool.

 

Disposal:

Because the semiconductors of most solar cells, as already described in detail, consist of the silicon that is often present in the earth’s crust, no toxic or dangerous waste materials are generated during disposal.
Old plants are being melted down. Glass and metal, fillers and the solar cell itself remain as waste products, which in turn is processed into a new cell.

C) Solar systems and photovoltaic systems have a manufacturer-guaranteed lifespan of more than 20 years
Both photovoltaic systems and thermal solar systems have a lifespan of more than 20 years. The manufacturers guarantee this fact by means of the underlying mature technology, which has had a successful track record in the more than 50-year success story. If a solar system is cleaned and maintained regularly, there is no fear of a serious drop in performance over time.

At the same time, hot water production from solar energy can cover at least half of the average annual hot water requirement.

D) Solar systems are installed and connected quickly and easily
If the conditions for a suitable roof pitch and the optimal alignment are met, a thermal solar system or a photovoltaic system for a household can be installed within two to three days. The electrical connection and technical effort can also be handled by specialist personnel in the shortest possible time.

E) Solar energy is independent of fossil fuels
If you look back in the recent past, accidents or crises repeatedly shape the increasingly louder call for independence from oil, the oil companies and the oil-producing countries. The recent oil crisis in the Middle East in particular caused the prices of fossil and thus long-term exhausted oil to rise massively again. The desire to become more independent of oil, natural gas and, at the same time, of hard coal or lignite seems to be able to come true through the increasing promotion of renewable energy sources. In contrast to fossil fuels, which are only available in limited numbers worldwide and are therefore unlikely to be available to future generations, solar energy is inexhaustible like wind and water energy and can continue to be used and promoted in the distant future.

Energy crises such as the Libya crisis or the devastating accident with the oil rig will be reduced or almost completely avoided in the future.

F) Short transport routes reduce high energy losses between companies and consumers
Transporting energy between the group and the consumer is time-consuming and costly because the power from the power plant often has to be transported to the user over a long journey. The energy losses are high and the use of the ultimately arrived energy is also expensive.

This problem is eliminated by using solar energy on your own roof. The electricity is fed into the public network by the shortest route, the company provides sufficient capacity for the free capacity through the legal regulation in the Renewable Energy Sources Act, and hot water can even be generated entirely in our own production in a thermal solar system.

Because small energy production plants are more stable and therefore independent of public power failures or other mishaps by the energy companies, there is no longer any need for large reserve capacities for the longer bridging of failures.

G) Consumers’ own energy generation makes them less dependent on the price specifications of the energy companies
Especially at a time when energy companies are heavily criticized by the constant price increases, the question of alternatives and independence from these companies is becoming louder and louder. The number of interested parties in solar systems and photovoltaic systems is greater than ever – the number of customers of the individual groups is decreasing every day: It is highly recommended to think about changing the electricity provider.

This will rekindle competition among energy suppliers; Electricity price increases can be prevented in the long term because every single consumer as a customer is important for the group to ensure the existence of the company.

System operators of a thermal solar system benefit from energy generation in that the energy required to process domestic water no longer has to be obtained from the group. This can significantly reduce the electricity costs of a household.

Plant operators of a photovoltaic system make effective use of the over 20-year price guarantee, in which the electricity fed in is remunerated. This also significantly reduces expenditure on energy suppliers.

 

H) Normally, the purchase of a solar power system does not require a building permit
The building regulations office is responsible for approving the construction of a solar system. As a rule, the purchase of a solar power system does not require a building permit, provided that it is installed on roofs or on facades.

However, if the installation area is, for example, a listed building or the construction of a solar park, the local development plan must be taken into account and a building permit applied for.

I) Legally regulated funding opportunities and cheap financing offers from the credit institutions still make the investment in a solar system interesting
Attractive funding opportunities through the law on the promotion of renewable energy sources and cheap financing offers, for example through the 100,000 roof program, make the investment in a solar system worthwhile.

The 100,000 roof range

Launched by the government as early as the 1990s, the credit institution offered a low-interest loan with a fixed interest rate for ten years and for both private and commercial plant operators. All systems with a capacity of 1 kilowatt peak or higher are funded. In addition, the first two years are redemption-free – provided that the application for the funding is received by the house bank before the investment begins.

 

Disadvantage

A) The effective energy production of a solar system depends on location, weather and season

B) The performance and the amount of the investment in a solar system depends on its efficiency – the better the efficiency, the greater the acquisition costs

C) The efficiency has not yet been fully worked out at its upper limit

D) Regular cleaning is essential for a long service life with low performance reductions over the years!

E) Grid-connected photovoltaic systems can only be connected to the public grid free of charge up to a certain size

A) The effective energy production of a solar system depends on location, weather and season
Because both thermal solar systems and photovoltaic systems generate the energy entirely from sunlight, their effectiveness is of course heavily dependent on solar radiation. The more light hits the collector surfaces or the solar cells, the better their performance.

Shady areas are not suitable for solar systems.
The orientation and the angle of inclination of the surface on which a solar system is installed also have a significant influence on the optimal functionality. Their performance can also be temporarily impaired by the covering of snow or ice, and their performance cannot be fully used. If the area is cleared of snow again, a system usually continues to operate in its usual mileage.

Regions with less snow and countries with lots of sunny days are therefore more suitable for the construction of solar systems.

B) The performance and the amount of the investment in a solar system depends on its efficiency – the better the efficiency, the greater the acquisition costs
Of course, the size of the system plays the main role in the acquisition costs. Although a plant for the use of solar energy pays off after about 10 to 15 years in terms of its lifespan of more than 20 years and with the help of state financing programs and funding options, an investment of at least 10,000 to 15,000 euros in a small plant is for some Investor a large sum.

In addition, there is of course the material used and the type of cell type – two factors that significantly influence the performance of a system. If you opt for a high-performance monocrystalline semiconductor layer made of high-purity silicon, its efficiency and thus its performance is high – but the production is also much more expensive than the minimally less efficient polycrystalline or amorphous coated cells, which do not have high-purity silicon in their production need and are therefore cheaper to manufacture.

In their purchase of more cost-effective systems with polycrystalline-coated cells, in order to achieve comparable performance to the modules with high-purity silicon-coated cells that are still more common to this day, a larger system must then be used to compensate.

Of course, the size and type of the system must also be taken into account when it comes to costs: thermal solar systems are used to heat the process water, photovoltaic systems produce electricity for feeding into the public power grid or for further use within so-called island systems.

 

C) The efficiency has not yet been fully worked out at its upper limit
To date, the energy generated cannot yet be optimally stored and fully processed. Intensive efforts are still being made to increase the efficiency of the cell layers – with the aim of making the purchase cheaper and at the same time being able to achieve even better performance.

Due to the different semiconductor materials, this project is only possible to a limited extent. Because the different layer types are therefore only suitable for individual light areas (“spectral areas”).

This means that only a certain part of the light spectrum can be used – this certain, limited amount of the usable light is called “photons”, that is, particles that are made usable by the impact of sunlight.

Unfortunately, despite many years of research, it is still not possible to convert the excess photons into energy on the one hand because they are converted into heat, and on the other hand to absorb and convert the photons with too little energy.

With the current status, only the semiconductor layer made of high-purity silicon and therefore also expensive can be named with maximum efficiency.

New surface structuring to avoid reflection losses, a different arrangement of the cells in order to be able to use a wider light spectrum, new mirror or lens systems for higher focusing of the light intensity or cells with dye for better light absorption should now put the maximum efficiency of the solar cells to the test again or provide new ways to improve.

D) Regular cleaning is essential for a long service life with low performance reductions over the years!
The topic of self-cleaning of a system can only be treated to a limited extent – because the self-cleaning function of a solar system is essentially dependent on its location and its surroundings.
Plants on agricultural holdings, in industrial areas, adjacent to forest areas or any other plant is sooner or later difficult to clean from dust to moss and exhaust gases to stubborn bird excrement.

Cleaning at regular intervals and maintenance by specialist companies is highly recommended in order to avoid a drop in performance over the years. However, this is associated with additional costs.

E) Grid-connected photovoltaic systems can only be connected to the public grid free of charge up to a certain size
The type of system should always be considered in advance, before any planning, information on size and costs and consideration of other aspects. If the choice is a profitable photovoltaic system that is to be connected to the public power grid, the possibility of connection must first be clarified. The Law on the Promotion of Renewable Energies (EEG) regulates the size of the system for connection to the public power grid up to an output of up to 30 kWp. If a connection to the network already exists before the system is purchased and the new system does not exceed this size, no further costs have to be expected.

If the grid or the grid connection needs to be expanded due to the planning of a correspondingly large plant, the electricity company is still obliged to purchase and pay for the amount of electricity generated. However, the plant operator can share in the costs of the expansion.

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