Solar PV generates cheap, green electricity from sunlight
Solar panel electricity systems, also known as solar photovoltaic (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.
Here are some of 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.
PV cells are made from layers of semi-conducting material.
The stronger the sunshine, the more electricity is produced.
Groups of cells are mounted together in panels that can either be mounted on your roof or on the ground.
The power of a PV cell is measured in kilowatts peak (kWp).
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.