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Solar PV, or solar photovoltaics, is a rapidly growing form of renewable energy. These are commonly known as solar cells or panels which can be seen on places such as roofs and solar farms. This technology converts sunlight into electricity by using solar cells which are made up of semiconductor materials that absorb sunlight and convert it into direct current (DC) electricity. Solar PV provides a clean, renewable source of energy that can be used to power homes, businesses, and even entire communities.

Advantages of Solar PV

One of the advantages of solar PV is that it is a clean source of energy. Unlike fossil fuels, which emit harmful pollutants into the air when burned, solar PV produces no emissions or pollution. This makes it a valuable tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting the environment.

Another advantage of solar PV is that it is a decentralized source of energy. This means that it can be installed on individual homes, businesses, or community buildings, reducing the need for centralized power plants and transmission lines. This not only makes solar PV more accessible to people around the world, but also makes it more resilient to power outages and other disruptions.

Additionally, solar PV is also becoming more cost-effective. In 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy announced a goal to reduce solar costs by over 50% by 2030. From 2010 to 2020, solar PV prices for residential, commercial, and utility use decreased by 64%, 69%, and 82%, respectively. This has led to a surge in demand for solar PV installations, particularly in regions with abundant sunshine. On a global scale, solar PV electricity generation grew 22% from 2020 to 2021 according to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

There are also different types of solar PV systems available. For example, rooftop solar systems are popular because they can be installed on existing buildings and require no additional land. Ground-mounted solar systems, on the other hand, can be installed in areas where there is no space on rooftops or where the angle of the sun is not optimal.

Energy Storage

One of the challenges facing the solar PV industry today is the issue of energy storage. Because solar PV systems only generate electricity when the sun is shining, they require a way to store excess energy for use during times when the sun is not available. This is particularly important for homes and businesses that rely on solar power as their primary source of energy.

Fortunately, there are different types of energy storage systems available today, including batteries, flywheels, and compressed air storage. These systems can be used to store excess solar energy during the day and release it at night or during periods of low sunlight.

Other Uses of Solar

While solar is popular on a large scale to increase the production of clean energy, it can also be used on small scales for people that are unable to install solar PV. Even with rebates for solar PV, it may still be cost-prohibitive or location prohibitive. However, solar can be used for small applications such as solar yard lights or walkway lights, and portable phone chargers. You may already own everyday items that use solar like street lights, watches, and calculators. Utilizing solar energy can help save money and reduce emissions on both large and small scales.  

Community Solar

If on-site solar is prohibitive, community solar may be a viable option to power your home or business. Community solar projects allow people to have the advantages of solar energy without the upfront costs of owning it. This may reduce your electricity bills instead of an added charge through your energy company’s programs that may use renewable energy certificates. Check out community solar projects for availability and more details about subscribing to a project!

Solar PV is an important technology that can be cost-effective and clean as we work to reduce our carbon footprint. Solar PV may become more affordable in the coming years, but even if it’s not a possibility on a larger scale for you, it’s all around us and can be used both big and small.