What are Solar Panels?
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 government’s Feed-In Tariffs pay both domestic and commercial customers 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, or when you can’t use it, you can sell the surplus back to the grid. Read more about feed-in tariffs and selling electricity.
- Cut your carbon footprint: solar electricity is green, renewable energy and doesn’t release any harmful carbon dioxide (CO2) or other pollutants. A typical home solar PV system could save over a tonne of CO2 per year – that’s more than 30 tonnes over its lifetime.
- If your system is eligible for the Feed-In Tariff scheme it could generate savings and income of up to £1000 per year (based on a domestic home using 16 panel 4kWp system)- you will get paid for both the electricity you generate and use, and what you don’t use and export to the grid.
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 be mounted on your roof.
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.