How does solar technology work?

  • While solar is comprised of a diverse suite of technologies, there are three main types: photovoltaics (PV), solar heating & cooling (SHC), and concentrating solar power (CSP).
  • Homeowners and businesses interested in going solar are primarily interested in the first two technologies, while utilities and large-scale energy project developers primarily utilize the latte PV panels directly produce electricity from sunlight, while SHC technologies use thermal (heat) energy to change the temperature of water and air. PV panels have no moving parts, and use an inverter to change the direct current (DC) power they produce to usable alternating current (AC) power.
  • SHC technologies are often used to heat water for domestic or commercial use, but can also be used to heat or cool the air in buildings. Most concentrating solar power systems use concentrated sunlight to drive a traditional steam turbine, creating electricity on a large scale. There are also concentrating solar technologies that use photovoltaic technology to produce electricity without a thermal process.
  • Click here to see how solar works
  • What is a solar lease and/or power-purchase agreement?

  • In a solar lease or solar power-purchase agreement (also known as a "PPA"), a customer pays for the solar power system over a period of years, rather than in an up-front payment. Often customers can purchase solar for little or no money down, and often realize energy savings immediately. In a power-purchase agreement, a customer agrees to purchase all the energy from a solar system over a fixed period of time
  • What happens to solar panels when it's cloudy or raining?

  • Photovoltaic panels can use direct or indirect sunlight to generate power, though they are most effective in direct sunlight. Solar panels will still work even when the light is reflected or partially blocked by clouds.
  • Rain actually helps to keep your panels operating efficiently by washing away any dust or dirt. If you live in an area with a strong net metering policy, energy generated by your panels during sunny hours will offset energy that you use at night and other times when your system isn't operating at full capacity
  • What is a solar lease and/or power-purchase agreement?

  • In a solar lease or solar power-purchase agreement (also known as a "PPA"), a customer pays for the solar power system over a period of years, rather than in an up-front payment. Often customers can purchase solar for little or no money down, and often realize energy savings immediately.
  • In a power-purchase agreement, a customer agrees to purchase all the energy from a solar system over a fixed period of time
  • What is a solar renewable energy credit (SREC)?

  • Solar renewable energy credits or SRECs show that a certain amount of electricity was produced using solar energy. They are typically used in conjunction with state-level renewable energy standards (also called renewable portfolio standards) to show that regulated entities are meeting their solar energy goals.