Solar PV

courtesy of KQED

What it is and how it works

Photovoltaics take energy from the sun and convert it to electricity.

Technology

PV cells are made from semi-conductor materials that are able to release electrons when exposed to solar radiation by using the photo-electric effect. The electrons from many cells are gathered together through conductors to make up the generation capacity of one module and many modules can be connected together to produce power in vast quantities.

Applications

PVs have a wide range of applications and are extremely versatile and modular. The same technology can be used as a individual panel for supplementing consumption on a residential home or as a vast collection of panels making up a utility scale power generation facility mega-watts in size.

Environmental impact

Photovoltaic energy is clean, cost effective and distributed.

FAQ?

  • Is PV expensive?
    PV was historically regarded as a costly technology but already today we see that grid parity is reached in many countries around the world.  Technological and transactional costs are constantly dropping and sources in industry believe panel prices could be seen as low as 1US $ per watt by 2020. Already in Europe there are estimations that PVs could generate energy at a levelised cost of between 14-32€c PV on rooftops also competes with retail electricity prices  making it more competitive than conventional large scale generation alternatives that have to compete at wholesale electricity prices.