KARLSRUHE, Germany, Aug. 21, 2013 — The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) will build a photovoltaics facility to provide the solar cells used by the school for its research and energy needs.
In cooperation with the module manufacturer Solarwatt, researchers will use the new facility to study how service life and grid compatibility of photovoltaic systems can be enhanced.
“The photovoltaics facility for own consumption does not only represent a research project of KIT; it also marks the start of the energy turnaround for KIT’s own power supply,” said KIT President Eberhard Umbach. “Moreover, this project makes sense from the economic point of view, as we are reducing our high power costs.”
All the power generated by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology’s photovoltaic facility will be used to cover its own consumption. Courtesy of M. Lober/KIT.
In its first phase, KIT will install and commission photovoltaics modules of about 1 MW on the school grounds by the fall. Over one year, 2 percent of KIT’s power consumption will be covered by the facility. Annual costs for energy supply will be reduced by about €200,000. The facility will have a service life of about 20 years with €1.5 million invested.
“It is a primary mission of KIT to develop viable technologies and accelerate commercialization,” said KIT Vice President for Research and Innovation Dr. Peter Fritz. “Thanks to cooperation with Solarwatt, we can demonstrate reasonable integration of photovoltaics in the overall system. This is indispensable for the success of the energy turnaround.”
Research will also be focused on how the angle of inclination and direction of the modules influence the production of solar power. Regenerative energy systems offering increased energy efficiency and longer service life are poised for development. However, this research is being aimed for self-sufficiency, not opposition.
“As a public research institution, we are not interested in competing with utilities,” said project manager Dr. Olaf Wollersheim. “Photovoltaics only is one element of an entirely regenerative energy system for Germany, which stores electric power, supplies it in a need-tailored manner and, hence, reduces grid load.”
In cooperation with Solarwatt, a solar module field laboratory will also be established with researchers studying glass-glass modules, their energy yield and aging under real operating conditions. The KIT laboratory will possess the ability to study novel electricity storage systems, intelligent power electronics and system controls. They can be developed with German industry partners and tested for practical use.
“Modern photovoltaics modules based on German know-how are a stand-alone feature on the international market,” said Solarwatt CEO Detlef Neuhaus. “Joint research based on a facility of this size in cooperation with KIT enables us to maintain our knowledge lead.”
For more information, visit: www.kit.edu
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