Introducing engineering
Introducing engineering

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Introducing engineering

5.10 PV terminology

Figure 99 explains some of the terminology applied to photovoltaics. The photovoltaic or solar cell is the base unit.

Cells are connected together electrically and fabricated into modules, and these are installed at a site in an arrangement known as an array. There remains the task of conditioning the d.c. electricity from the array. This may involve storage in batteries or conversion to a.c., which may then be connected to the mains.

Described image
Figure 99 Photovoltaic hierarchy

Renewable energy, together with greater energy efficiency and a reduction in energy consumption, offer a route to offset the consequences of climate change that are occurring through the overuse of fossil fuels. There are many resources and technologies, but for electricity generation in urban and remote environments alike, photovoltaics is an attractive option because of its modularity and quiet, maintenance-free operation. The technology is also suitable for integration with existing fossil fuel resources, or with other renewables, to overcome the mismatch between resource availability and demand.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371