What is Solar PV Panels?
Solar energy is a source of renewable energy and can be generated from solar PV (photovoltaic) panels.
Contrary to popular belief, solar panels can still generate electricity on cloudy and cooler days. While sunnier days will generate more power than cloudy ones, solar panels will create electricity during all daylight hours whatever the weather making them suitable across the UK.
Also, their efficiency is increased in lower temperatures and most of the latest commercially available solar panels have an efficiency of 18% to 22%.
Solar panel costs have fallen by 85% over the last ten years at the same time panel efficiency has increased. While daylight is diurnal and varies across the seasons, the energy generated in the daytime can be stored in solar batteries to be used when needed. This helps when your energy demand profile does not align with energy generation.
Instead of exporting the electricity produced to the grid when you don’t need it, you can store it in solar batteries for when you do which saves you having to buy from the grid when generation is low or zero. Since the closure of the Feed in Tariff (FiT), this can have significant savings.
How does Solar PV works?
Each solar PV panel is made up of small solar cells consisting of one or two layers of semi-conducting material, commonly made from silicon, to convert solar radiation into electricity. Light shines on the cell creating an electric field across the layers, causing electrons to flow creating electricity.
On its own, each cell creates a tiny bit of electricity and when connected to form panels, which are linked to form a system, they create useful amounts.
Daylight is turned into electric current when photons of light ‘knock’ electrons from atoms generating a flow of electricity as a direct current. This current is fed through an inverter, converting the direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC – or mains equivalent) electricity, which is suitable for running lights and appliances in your building.
There are two types of solar mounting options: roof mounted and ground mounted. As the name suggests, roof mounted solar PV systems attach to brackets a roof.
Such systems, particularly for domestic premises, have been very popular, accounting for over 96% of all solar PV installations being in this category by number. Roof mounted solar installations boomed with support from the FiT, which generated income for both electricity generated and electricity exported to the grid. Solar PV systems are relatively easy to install and can last upwards of 40 years.