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SOLAR ENERGY

Solar energy is an alternative source of electricity - radiation from the sun is transformed into electricity
 

The term photovoltaic derives from the combination of 2 words:
Photo from the Greek phos = light
Volt = electricity
which literally means 'electricity of light'
 

WHAT ARE PHOTOVOLTAICS?

Photovoltaic technology (PV) uses solar cells to convert sunlight directly into electricity.
Solar panels are made from thin layers of silicon, a semiconductor material that absorbs the suns rays and turns them into electricity.

solar panels 1



An example of the layers in a PV Solar Panel





WHY GO SOLAR?

Because solar energy is clean and renewable
A solar electric system can lower the cost of your electricity bills and reduce the negative impact on the environment.
 
Photovoltaic (PV) modules have no moving or wearing parts, and require no maintenance other than an occasional cleaning.
 
Solar energy in New Zealand is plentiful and can be harnessed in many areas.
On average, places around New Zealand have about 2000 hours of bright sunshine each year 
 

DOES THE PHOTOVOLTAIC SOLAR PANEL PRODUCE HOT WATER?

NO!, the PV module or panel produces electricity
 
Solar water heating systems (also called solar thermal systems) provide hot water for household use by using warmth from the sun to heat water in special roof panels.
 
PV solar systems, in contrast, use energy from sunlight to directly generate electricity.
 

CRYSTALLINE VS THIN FILM OR AMORPHOUS SOLAR

thin film Amorphous solar comparison
The array on the left (amorphous) is 1.92kW compared to the 1.52kW array (crystalline) on the right.
The array on the left is 300% bigger but only produces 23% more power.
That's why we're not a big fan of thin film.

 

THERE ARE 2 DIFFERENT SYSTEMS USED FOR PV SOLAR

pv off grid solar diagram

PV Solar - off the grid can be part of a stand-alone power system.
This means not connected to the mains or electricity company.

You are completely independent of any power company
You create your own power and store your own power in deep cycle batteries.



 
grid copnnected solar

PV panels are also becoming popular in urban situations where you are grid connected or grid tie
Grid connected systems are connected to the power company.
When the sun is out you use the power you make and sell any excess power you make back to your electricity company.
At night, or when you have days without sun you buy power from your power company.
You do not need the expensive battery bank to store the power you make.
 


HOW POPULAR ARE SOLAR SYSTEMS?

As the cost of solar panels have fallen drastically since the early 1970s — as much as 90 percent — photovoltaics have become an increasingly attractive option for a variety of both small and large scale uses.

When you invest in a grid-connect solar system you are basically paying for your power in advance for the next 40 years.
 
Depending on the size of your system any excess power that you make can be fed back into the mains grid for the same price as you pay for your power per kilowatt.
 
This can give you a return on your money of 10% or more (based on today's prices - March 2013)
 

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST FOR A PV SOLAR SYSTEM?

The price of a solar electric system depends on many factors, the biggest being how much power do you want to produce?  Other factors include the size of your roof area, (panels may be mounted on garages or ground mounted), how you are situated to the sun etc
 
Commercial systems 10 KW to 1 MW the cost depends on the site and project, large scale systems are starting to offer attractive returns
 
The cost of installation and related equipment for stand-alone power systems, such as a battery bank, can increase the cost of the system significantly.

But the cost of solar power systems is expected to fall as production expands and technologies improve. At the same time, the price for grid electricity is expected to rise, so the cost-effectiveness of solar power should continue to improve.
Information from Current Generation