So­lar pan­els

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Gen­er­ate cheap, green elec­tric­ity from sun­light

So­lar panel elec­tric­ity sys­tems, also known as so­lar pho­to­voltaics (PV), cap­ture the sun’s en­ergy us­ing pho­to­voltaic cells. Th­ese cells don’t need di­rect sun­light to work – they can still gen­er­ate some elec­tric­ity on a cloudy day. The cells con­vert the sun­light into elec­tric­ity, which can be used to run house­hold ap­pli­ances and light­ing.

The ben­e­fits of so­lar elec­tric­ity

• Cut your elec­tric­ity bills. Sun­light is free, so once you’ve paid for the ini­tial in­stal­la­tion, your elec­tric­ity costs will be re­duced.

• Get paid for the elec­tric­ity you gen­er­ate. The UK gov­ern­ment’s Feed-in Tar­iff scheme pays you for the elec­tric­ity you gen­er­ate, even if you use it.

• Sell elec­tric­ity back to the grid. If your sys­tem is pro­duc­ing more elec­tric­ity than you need, you can sell the sur­plus back to the grid through the Feed-in Tar­iff scheme.

• Cut your car­bon foot­print. So­lar elec­tric­ity is green re­new­able en­ergy and doesn’t re­lease any harm­ful car­bon diox­ide or other pol­lu­tants. A typ­i­cal home so­lar PV sys­tem could save over a tonne and a half of car­bon diox­ide per year – that’s more than 30 tonnes over its life­time.

How do so­lar pan­els (PV) cells work?

PV cells are made from lay­ers of semi-con­duct­ing ma­te­rial, usu­ally sil­i­con. When light shines on the cell it cre­ates an elec­tric field across the lay­ers. The stronger the sun­shine, the more elec­tric­ity is pro­duced. Groups of cells are mounted to­gether in pan­els or mod­ules that can ei­ther be mounted on your roof or on the ground.

The power of a PV cell is mea­sured in kilo­watts peak (kWp). That’s the rate at which it gen­er­ates en­ergy at peak per­for­mance in full di­rect sun­light dur­ing the sum­mer. PV cells come in a va­ri­ety of shapes and sizes. Most PV sys­tems are made up of pan­els that fit on top of an ex­ist­ing roof, but you can also fit so­lar tiles.

So­lar tiles and slates

So­lar tiles are de­signed to be used in place of or­di­nary roof tiles. A sys­tem made up of so­lar tiles will typ­i­cally cost about twice as much as an equiv­a­lent panel sys­tem. So­lar tile sys­tems are not nor­mally as cost-ef­fec­tive as panel sys­tems, and are usu­ally only con­sid­ered where pan­els are not con­sid­ered ap­pro­pri­ate for aes­thetic or plan­ning rea­sons.

For more in­for­ma­tion please go to http://www.en­er­gysav­ uk/re­new­able-en­ergy/elec­tric­ity/so­lar-pan­els

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