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Solar Panels, otherwise known as Solar Photovoltaic (Solar PV) use energy from the sun to create electricity that can be used to run appliances, such as computers, washing machines and kettles.
A Solar PV system simply requires daylight to generate electricity and so still generates power on a cloudy day.
There are three main components in a Solar PV system:
Solar PV Panels – that use the energy from the sun’s rays to create electricity.
Inverter – which converts the electricity produced from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) (240V). AC 240v electricity is the same form of electricity as that supplied by the mains power grid.
System connections – which include simple cabling and safety switches.
How does it work?
A Solar PV system uses a series of Photovoltaic cells in a panel to convert daylight into electricity. The PV cell consists of two charged layers in fine balance within a semi conductive material, usually silicon. When light shines on the cell it disrupts this balance causing electrons to flow between these two layers generating an electricial current. The greater the intensity of light, the greater the flow of electricity. Solar PV cells are referred to in terms of the amount of power they generate under industry standard conditions known as kilowatt peak (kWp).
In the UK for every kWp of Solar PV installed it generates on average 850 kilowatt hours (kWh) or units of electricity per annum.
What are the benefits of solar electricity?
Solar PV systems produce no greenhouse gases when generating electricity, so you will be generating your own ‘green’ electricity. Consequently, you will not only be reducing your electricity bills, but also helping to reduce the carbon footprint of your property. A typical domestic system can save approximately 1.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, adding up to almost 30 tonnes over a system’s lifetime (Source: Energy Saving Trust January 09).
The Solar PV system is connected to the mains power grid through the property’s consumer unit. With grid connected systems, electricity that is generated but not used is automatically exported back to the grid. This excess electricity can be sold back to your electricity supplier.