Solar Power Overview

Solar power is the result of solar energy which is captured from sunlight and converted into electricity which is either stored in batteries for use at a later date, or diverted directly to the building for immediate use. In some cases excess energy may be sold to “the grid” for additional income or to supplement and reduce the standard energy that may be used from existing power sources. Commonly, this process is accomplished with photovoltaics (PV), a device which converts sunlight into electricity through the utilization of materials that produce electric current when exposed to light (a phenomenon known as the photovoltaic effect). Small electrical devices called PV cells, or solar cells, carry out the PV process. Solar cells are arranged in arrays called solar panels, or solar modules, that are mounted on a stand or bracket and installed in an area with substantial sun exposure. Typically, several solar panels are connected to form a PV system, or solar power system, that is utilized to provide some or all of a building’s energy needs.

Stats and Figures:

• Roughly 170,000 TWh of solar energy strikes Earth continuously.
• About 50% of solar energy reaches the Earth’s surface.
• Global energy consumption is roughly 18TWh.
• Solar energy exceeds global energy needs by a factor of over 4,700.


Lacking any toxic or global-warming byproducts, solar energy is the cleanest and most abundant of any currently known energy source, and as noted above, more solar energy reaches the Earth’s surface in a given moment than could ever be used. Also, solar power offers energy independence by allowing buildings to consume electricity where it’s produced, thereby decreasing their dependence on the grid. Currently, depending on the assemblies chosen, PV systems may cost more at the time of installation than simply hooking up to the grid but, the investment can be recovered with energy savings alone, and there is also the potential to sell excess electricity to utility companies.In addition, as technologies improve in the field of PV and PV panels, the cost to energy generated values continue to decrease, reducing the cost of the system.