LUTW uses appropriate technology as a catalyst for development.

Appropriate technologies take into consideration the environmental, ethical, cultural, social, political, and economic aspects of a community, increasing chances for the long-term success of a project. With these goals in mind, solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, when appropriately designed, require fewer resources, are easier to maintain, and have less of an impact on the environment when compared to other services, such as using kerosene for lighting.

Solar photovoltaic technology has been improving for much longer than many people realize, with the advent of the Photovoltaic effect first discovered in the 19th century.

Solar PV cells convert sunlight directly into electricity. When sunlight interacts with semiconductor materials in the PV cell to free electrons, their movement generates an electrical current. Solar PV technology allows for electricity generation from a renewable source, the sun, rather than industrial methods such as relying on the burning of coal.

 

LUTW designs solar PV systems that respond to the specific energy needs of families in off-grid communities. A simple solar PV system consists of a solar PV module (to generate electricity) connected to a cable (to transport the electricity), a controller (to regulate the Voltage and Current), battery (to store the electricity) and devices (also called loads) such as a light bulb (which convert the electricity into a useful service, light!). The electricity generated from the solar PV module follows the wiring to the charge controller, battery and the devices connected to the system.

The majority of solar PV home systems (SHS) that LUTW designs are 12 Volt Direct Current (DC). These low-voltage systems provide a basic electrification service that includes lighting and communications (i.e. charging cell phones and powering radios) to small rural homes in off-grid communities. The systems are stand-alone, meaning they are not connected to other electrical infrastructure. Each SHS includes a solar PV module, a charge controller, a battery, LED lights, wiring, switches, DC to DC converter and adaptor to connect other devices such as cell phones and radios. Systems are designed to be modular, which means that they can be adapted and changed over time as demand for electricity changes. Click here for a description of the various core components of a solar PV system.

See the sections on people and sustainability for a more in-depth look at how LUTW’s develops sustainable technology transfer projects.

 

For more information about how solar PV technology works see the links below:

http://www.nrel.gov/learning/re_photovoltaics.html

http://solarpower.com/how-does-solar-power-work/

http://www.cansia.ca/solar-energy-101/what-solar-photovoltaics-pv