Photovoltaics
in Office Buildings

Photovoltaics, meaning  devices that allow you to obtain electricity from the sun, are becoming an increasingly popular installation used in Polish homes. Apart from the fact that they will contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, they enable the reduction of electricity charges from electricity suppliers. No wonder then that more and more photovoltaic panels are also appearing in office buildings and public buildings.

 How it works

The operation of photovoltaics is relatively simple. It consists in the occurrence of a phenomenon called the photovoltaic effect – an electromotive force is generated in a semiconductor such as photovoltaic cells. In other words – solar energy is converted into a direct current. Photovoltaic cells, in turn, are nothing more than a component
of solar panels. The panels are made of silicon and are most often mounted on roofs, although this is not the only place. Terraces, facades and lawns are equally well suited for this. It is important to choose a sunny place. At a later stage, the photovoltaic systems do not require any maintenance, and their use itself does not involve any costs.

Better, less expensive electricity

Is the electricity produced by photovoltaic panels different from the electricity obtained from the public grid? Yes and no. Certainly, the electrical system does not change along with the installation of the photovoltaic system. Only a solar inverter should be installed to convert a direct current into an alternating current with electrical specifications according to the public grid. The only difference in the “current” itself is that the voltage of the panels is slightly higher than that of the suppliers. Therefore, first the electricity produced by the photovoltaic panel is consumed, and if it “runs out”, i.e. the needs of the recipient turn out to be greater than it is able to produce itself, only then is electricity drawn from the power grid. If the opposite situation occurs – that the consumer does not consume all the electricity produced by their panels, they may return the surplus to the public grid.

Benefits versus costs

Today there is no need to convince anyone about the benefits of using photovoltaics. Firstly, photovoltaic panels contribute to the protection of the natural environment. In addition they allow you to significantly reduce (or even eliminate) electricity bills. What’s more – the RES Act allows the owner of a photovoltaic installation who has produced more electricity than they consumed to collect this surplus within a year (i.e. to collect the surplus from July, e.g. in May). The cost of the photovoltaic installation itself is unfortunately not small, but the good news for entrepreneurs is that they can use a subsidy or loan for its installation in the amount of up to 85 percent of the eligible costs. This is due to Poland’s obligations under EU directive 2009/28 / EC in the field of renewable energy, which has set our country’s target of achieving a 15 percent share of renewable energy sources in the overall energy mix by 2020, which has probably not been achieved yet.

Novelties on the photovoltaic market

It is worth mentioning that solutions that enable the installation of panels in the walls of the building and in roof tiles (BIPV – Building-Integrated Photovoltaics system) are also available on the market. Thanks to this, photovoltaic panels can be used as a building material. Another solution are translucent panels, which, when mounted on the facades of buildings not only generate electricity, but also prevent the building from heating up too much (which, in turn, translates into lower electricity consumption for air conditioning).

Having a photovoltaic installation in an office building, apart from ecological and financial aspects for the owner of the building, also has an image aspect. It is also important for tenants who may prefer to choose such office buildings due to the lack of additional electricity charges.