Photovoltaics: A central piece of decentralized power supply

The energy transition is in full swing. According to the German Environment Agency, Germany already sources over 50% of its energy from renewable sources this year and the urgent need to further reduce our CO2 emissions is increasing the importance of renewable energies. Photovoltaic systems, in particular, play a crucial role in decentralized power supply and contribute to a sustainable energy future due to their flexibility and compactness.

How Photovoltaic Systems Work

A PV system consists of many individual solar cells connected to form modules. Each solar cell is made up of two layers of silicon that are differently doped to create an electric field. When sunlight hits the solar cells, the energy of the photons is absorbed by the electrons in the silicon. This excites the electrons and causes them to move, resulting in an electric current. The excited electrons move through the electric field in the solar cell and generate direct current (DC), which is then transmitted through the module’s wires. Since most household appliances and the power grid require alternating current (AC), the generated direct current is converted into alternating current by an inverter and therefore made usable.

Advantages of a decentralized energy supply

Decentralization offers numerous advantages over centralized energy systems. A decentralized energy supply can significantly reduce the costly and time-consuming expansion of the power and heat network. At the same time, it promotes broad societal participation and avoids the formation of monopolistic structures. This allows property owners and local energy cells to independently meet their energy needs while flexibly responding to local conditions.

The role of PV systems

Photovoltaic systems are ideal for decentralized power generation because they can be installed on the roofs of residential, commercial, and industrial buildings. This allows the generated electricity to be used where it is needed, reducing the need for expensive power lines and extensive grid expansions. Additionally, photovoltaic systems can be combined with various storage systems and heat generators to ensure a stable energy supply even with fluctuating availability.

Challenges and the future of storage technologies

The coordination and storage of surplus electricity are the biggest challenges of our energy transition. Storage technologies are essential to ensure supply security during periods without solar power. PAUL addresses this issue through the smart coupling of sectors: by using AI-assisted coordination of heat pumps as electricity consumers and hot water storage modules for demand-based energy retrieval.
If you are interested in heat pumps, we have a separate journal entry on that topic as well.

Renewable Energies: A 100 percent solution!

A recent study by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) and the Technical University of Berlin shows that Germany can meet its entire energy needs for electricity, heat, and mobility 100 percent from renewable energies. This would be possible without extra-European energy imports and considering the actual grid infrastructure costs. Such an approach would significantly reduce the need for large-scale grid expansion and make the energy transition more cost-efficient. At PAUL, we also believe that the tools are already available today to provide emission-free energy to the energy-intensive housing market through smart sector coupling.

Conclusion: The Future is Decentralized

The shift to decentralized energy supply offers immense benefits for the environment, society, and the economy. Photovoltaic systems will play a key role in this, as they enable emission-free and flexible power generation and energy supply. In conjunction with heat pumps and AI coordination, we can collectively create a sustainable and independent energy future.

Further articles

Photovoltaics: A central piece of decentralized power supply

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Kristina Klehr