Off-grid domestic systems provide electricity to households and villages that are not connected to the utility electricity network (also referred to as the grid). They provide electricity for lighting, refrigeration and other low power loads, have been installed worldwide and are often the most appropriate technology to meet the energy demands of offgrid communities.
Off-grid domestic systems in the reporting countries are typically around 1 kW in size and generally offer an economic alternative to extending the electricity distribution network at distances of more than 1 or 2 km from existing power lines. Defining such systems is becoming more difficult where, for example, mini-grids in rural areas are developed by electricity utilities.
Off-grid non-domestic installations were the first commercial application for terrestrial PV systems. They provide power for a wide range of applications, such as telecommunication, water pumping, vaccine refrigeration and navigational aids. These are applications where small amounts of electricity have a high value, thus making PV commercially cost competitive with other small generating sources.
Grid-connected distributed PV systems are installed to provide power to a grid-connected customer or directly to the electricity network (specifically where that part of the electricity network is configured to supply power to a number of customers rather than to provide a bulk transport function). Such systems may be on or integrated into the customer’s premises often on the demand side of the electricity meter, on public and commercial buildings, or simply in the built environment on motorway sound barriers, etc. Size is not a determining feature – while a 1 MW PV system on a roof-top may be large by PV standards, this is not the case for other forms of distributed generation.
Grid-connected centralized systems perform the functions of centralized power stations. The power supplied by such a system is not associated with a particular electricity customer, and the
system is not located to specifically perform functions on the electricity network other than the supply of bulk power. These systems are typically ground-mounted and functioning independently of
any nearby development.
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