Direct conversion of radiant energy into electrical energy. When exposed to sunlight, positive and negative charge carriers are released through the so-called ‘photo effect’, producing direct current. Depending on the orientation, sunlight and type of module, around 1 kWp of power can be generated with a 10 m2 area, which corresponds to approximately 800 to 1,000 kWh of power per year.
The term is composed of the Greek word for light (‘phos’) and the name of Alessandro Volta, pioneer of electricity who gave his name to the electrical unit ‘volt’. Photovoltaic technology was first used in 1958 to sustain the energy supply of satellites.