WHAT IS SOLAR PV?
A photovoltaic system, or solar PV system, is a renewable energy generating system designed to supply usable solar power by means of photovoltaics. It consists of an arrangement of several components, including solar panels to absorb and convert sunlight into electricity, a solar inverter to change the electric current from DC to AC, as well as mounting, cabling and other electrical accessories to set up a working system.
Operating silently and without any moving parts or environmental emissions, PV systems have developed from being niche market applications into a mature technology used for mainstream electricity generation.
Photovoltaics harness the unlimited free energy of the sun to generate electricity for home use, businesses, corporate organisations and communities.
There are three types of solar panels, monocrystalline, polycrystalline and amorphous, which range in cost and efficiency. Polycrystalline panels are the most popular and cost effective panels available and are generally recognisable by their traditional blue colour. Monocrystalline panels, which are usually black, are a more aesthetically pleasing solar panel installation and are widely used in domestic or commercial arrays, where the premises is in a conservation area or an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Amorphous modules are also known as thin film modules and, although they generally have a lower output than traditional panels of the same size, they are lightweight and more flexible, making them an excellent choice for a solar panel installation with a fragile roof structure. Thin film modules also work well at low light levels and perform well at much lower temperatures than traditional PV panels.
Solar PV panels can also be designed and manufactured in alternative colours if required, but there would be an additional cost for this.
A solar panel installation can be mounted on the roof of your building (known as roof top arrays), on unused land (known as ground mounted arrays) or on vertical sections of buildings (known as façade or curtain walling arrays).
HOW SOLAR PANELS WORK
Solar PV (photovoltaic) cells are made from very thin layers of silicon or other semi-conducting materials which are used to convert light energy into electrical energy. When the sun’s rays hit these cells, an electrical field is created across the layers and electricity is generated.
Simply put, a solar PV panel works by allowing photons, or particles of light, to knock electrons free from atoms, generating a flow of electricity. Photovoltaic simply means they convert sunlight into electricity.
Although solar PV panels do not need direct sunlight to work and electricity can be generated even on a cloudy day, more electricity will be produced when sunlight is at its strongest.
Solar PV modules gather energy from the sun, which is then converted into direct current (DC) electricity. But to be usable, the energy generated has to be converted into alternating current (AC) electricity, so this process is performed by an inverter.
A solar panel installation is designed to last for many years, with the lifetime expectancy of the solar PV system exceeding 3 decades. The performance of solar PV panels is guaranteed for at least the lifetime of the Feed-in Tariff, which is 20 years, and usually for at least another 5 years after that. They require very little maintenance, but to remain operating at their most efficient, solar PV panels should ideally be cleaned once every 5 years.
As a specialist solar PV provider, Environmental Energies provide a full turnkey renewable solution for your premises. We will conduct a site visit to assess the potential for solar energy and design your solar PV system to meet your specific requirements, whilst maximising your returns from your renewable energy investment.
We produce MCS guideline calculations on financial and carbon emission savings, and organise every aspect of your solar panel installation; from the initial site visit, design and surveys, through to the solar PV installation, commissioning, monitoring and maintenance, leaving you to carry on running your business as normal.