Solar Photovoltaic (Solar PV) is a method of converting solar energy directly into electricity by using semiconductor materials. This can be used in a system that is designed to supply usable solar energy. It typically consists of an arrangement of several components such as solar panels to absorb and convert sunlight into electricity. They can range in size from small roof top installations to large building integrated systems with the capacity from several tens of kilowatts to large utility stations. Most systems these days are connected to the grid while stand alone systems are only a small portion of systems out there.
There are a number of components that make up a solar PV system. These components are often called the balance of system because some parts balance the power-generating subsystem of the solar array. The components include:
- Solar Array- This is a linked collection of solar panels. Typically the power that one module produces in too little to sufficiently supply a home or business. Therefore modules have to be linked together and these linked modules are then referred to as a solar array.
- Mounting Systems- Arrays are then secured on some sort of mounting system such as a rack or pole. These are then installed on a roof or in the ground. Racks can be devised to fit a variety of roofs from pitched ones to flat ones.
- Cabling- Solar cables are designed to be resistant against UV radiation and very high temperature fluctuations. They are generally unaffected by the weather.
- Solar Trackers– These tilt a solar panel throughout the day so that they panels or modules catch as much sunlight as possible. They are generally useful for enhancing the early morning or late afternoon performance. Most solar PV systems are very sensitive to the sunlight’s angle and tracking systems allow them to produce useful power for more than a short period each day.
- Solar Inverters– They may connect a string of solar panels and deliver alternating current (AC) necessary to convert direct currents (DC) from solar modules to AC.
- Monitoring and Metering– Metering has to be able to accrue energy in both directions or two meters have to be used. Monitoring and metering is necessary to keep tabs on breakdown and optimization of operation.
Benefits of a Solar PV System
There are various economical and environmental benefits of installing a Solar PV System including:
- No longer paying the energy company
- It is a secure investment
- It will increase your property value
- There are governmental incentives to take advantage of
- Reduces your carbon footprint
- Allows you to be more socially responsible
Although installing a PV system can be costly upfront the overall savings from utilizing solar energy offers individuals huge savings over the long run.