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Solar Technology

If solar power is the purest form of renewable energy known, then how much solar power have we got? The answer to this question, when considered alongside how efficiently we can convert raw sunshine into usable power, helps determine whether or not it is realistic to consider solar energy as a viable alternative to conventional energy sources.

In full sun, you can safely assume about 100 watts of solar energy per square foot. If you assume 12 hours of sun per day, this equates to 438,000 watt-hours per square foot per year. Based on 27,878,400 square feet per square mile, sunlight bestows a whopping 12.2 trillion watt-hours per square mile per year.

Clearly there is enough solar energy available to fulfill all of the human race's energy requirements now, and for all practical purposes, forever. The key is developing technologies that efficiently convert solar power into usable energy in a cost-effective manner.

Solar Thermal and Solar Photovoltaics FAQ

What is the difference between solar thermal and photovoltaics (PV)?

Solar thermal systems generate heat (for water or air) with the radiation of the sun. A solar photovoltaic system (Solar PV) uses solar radiation to generate electricity.

How do solar photovoltaic cells work?

In layperson terms, photovoltaic cells are comprised of a semiconductor material such as silicon. Added to the silicon are the elements phosphorous and boron which create conductivity within the cell and activate the movement of electrons. The electrons move across the cell when activated by the sunlight's energy into the electrical circuit hooked up to the solar panel.

What are solar hot water systems (also known as Solar Thermal Systems)?

Solar hot water systems, broadly termed solar thermal systems, use the sun's energy to heat water. Solar hot water systems can be used to heat a hot water tank or to warm a home's radiant heating system. Swimming pools and hot tubs use a modified solar hot water system for heating water.

What components do I need to install a grid-tied solar electric system?

You will need a photovoltaic array to capture the sun's energy, an inverter to convert the direct current (DC) produced from the photovoltaic cells into alternating current (AC) used by your home, and a house utility meter - called a net meter - that can record both the electricity produced from your home's power system as well as any power you may use off the grid. These three system components are then connected through a series of wiring. The photovoltaic panels are secured to your roof with panel mounts or are installed on poles that can be adjusted for sun angle.

What size system will I need?

An installer will evaluate your energy needs before preparing a bid. The installer will consider several factors, including past electric use - providing GreenUP Energy Solutions with at least one year of consumption history will ensure least size to the appropriate system for your needs.

How much space do I need for a solar photovoltaic (PV) system?

In bright sunlight, a square foot of a conventional photovoltaic panel will yield 10 watts of power. That's a helpful rule of thumb for calculating a rough estimate of how much area you might need. For example, a 1000 watt system may need 100 - 200 square feet of area, depending on the type of PV module used.

How many solar thermal panels would I need to heat water for my home?

This will depend on how many people in your household, on how much hot water you use and how much sunlight you receive.

What is the application process?

Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky incentives and tax filing processes vary. Depending on your location and its due process, a basic understanding is exampled as such:

To receive the federal tax credit or refund, you simply fill out the necesary tax form and file it with your taxes. For the state grant incentives, an application is sent to a local authority over the renewable state incentives and a review process determines percentages of incentives and requires specific data about the intended site. When the project is approved, the grant money is awarded to the installer and the installation process begins. Normally there is some data about the volume of the element being harnessed.

What can I expect from my system?

Depending on the exposure capacity of a potential PV system, will determine what potential energy can be produced.

How long will it take for my system to "pay for itself?"

This will be determined by several factors including the size of the system and frequency of use. A typical payback period with todays incentives can be as little as 3 years.