Did you know that on any given day, the world receives enough sunlight in one hour to provide enough energy to fully power the entire world for an entire year.
For now, we don't yet have the capabilities to fully harness this, but the potential for capturing more sunlight and converting it into clean, renewable energy is massive.
Solar panels which generate electricity (known as solar PV) capture the sun's energy using photo voltaic cells. Even on a cloudy day, the cells can still generate electricity which can be used to run household appliances and lighting.
How does solar PV work?
- photovoltaic systems use cells, consisting of one or two layers of semi-conducting material, to convert solar radiation into electricity. The semi-conducting material is generally silicon, which is the second most abundant element on earth after oxygen.
- light shines on the cell creating an electric field across the layers
- this causes electrons to flow creating electricity
- on its own each cell only creates a tiny bit of electricity, but when connected together to form panels, which are linked together to form a system, they create useful amounts
- panels are mounted on the roof or on a frame
- an inverter converts the direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC – or mains equivalent) electricity which is suitable for running appliances
- grid connected systems can export electricity they don’t use to the grid, and import it from the grid when there is not enough sunlight
- off-grid systems store excess electricity in a bank of batteries
- off-grid systems can be used in conjunction with other sources of power such as biomass boilers, wind or hydro turbines.
Most households peak use tends to be in the mornings and late afternoon/evenings. In winter months, there is little or no daylight at these times. Reversely, when the system is operating at its maximum, households are usually unable to make full use of all the electricity that is being generated and therefore it is sent to the grid. This is where a storage system can help you save more. A storage system saves the unused daytime peak energy for when you home needs it the most, maximising your consumption of the clean energy you generate.