Solar Power (Solar Electricity Photovoltaic Panels)
It’s generally known that Solar PV panels convert sunlight into electricity. It’s actually more accurate in fact though to say that they now convert daylight into electricity.
On any given day throughout the year we can generate solar electricity. This is because the technology behind Solar PV has developed rapidly, and the most advanced panels are extremely effective and efficient – even here in the UK!
Solar PV works from daylight, so energy is still produced on cloudy or overcast days. Obviously the panels produce more power in bright sunlight than when the weather is overcast.
There are local output variations up and down the country, but these are very small. Precise meteorological records have been kept for many years, so annual outputs and regional variations can be predicted with a good deal of accuracy.
Most Solar PV panels are fitted onto roof structures, ideally facing south or in a southerly direction. They should be angled at between 30° to 40° from horizontal for maximum efficiency.
Panels fitted anywhere from east through south to west will generate energy, and though south facing is optimal, panels in any direction on the southerly arc should perform at 85% efficiency or above.
Open exposure is important, as any shading by tall trees or other buildings etc. will prevent good light from getting to the PV cells. Low temperatures will not affect the output – it’s purely determined by the quality of the light.
No Need for Planning Permission
Planning permission isn’t usually required, unless the structures are to be placed on a listed building. (Prince Charles has recently been given planning permission by Westminster Council to install solar panels onto the roof at Clarence House).
How PV works…
Solar PV cells convert natural daylight and sunlight into electricity, which can be used to run lights and domestic or office appliances in the home or business.
As the panels generate DC electricity, an inverter is also installed to convert the output to AC. The system is connected to the National Grid, and will work alongside your traditional electricity supply. At night, or anytime you need more power than your solar system can supply, electricity will be imported from the grid. When your solar system generates more power than you need, the surplus electricity is exported and sold back to the grid.
A meter will be installed to allow you to monitor how well your system is performing.