1. What Is Solar Energy and How Do Solar Panels Work?
Solar energy, as the name suggests, is the energy of the Sun. The radiant heat and light of Sun can be harnessed to produce electricity, thanks to technological advancements. Solar energy, a major source of renewable energy, will play a key role in meeting the energy demands of our future, as the conventional, non-renewable energy resources such as coal, petroleum and natural gas are being depleted at alarming rates, in addition to their posing high environmental risks upon the planet.
Solar Panels, consisting of a group of solar cells held together by glass casing and metallic wiring, convert sunlight into electricity in a process referred to as the photovoltaic effect. Put simply, particles of light i.e., photons, knock the loosely held electrons free in the semiconductor solar cells. This creates a flow of electrons generating an electric current. Read More
2. What is a Solar PV System and how does it work?
Solar PV system, or rather Solar Photovoltaic system, is an electrical power generating system. It harnesses sunlight to produce electrical energy in a process called photovoltaic effect, hence the name. One can understand how it functions by looking at its components:
a. Solar Panels – These are composed of solar cells which are in turn made of a semiconductor element, Silicon. The energy of sunlight is absorbed by these cells, exciting the loosely held electrons and creating a direct electric current.
b. Solar Inverter – The Direct current generated by solar cells is converted into alternating current (AC) by the solar inverter. This is necessary since most electronic devices of daily use need alternating current to function in.
3. What is Solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)?
Solar Power Purchase Agreement is a financial agreement wherein you authorize a solar company to install and maintain solar PV system in your property at little to zero upfront cost. The solar company owns the Solar PV system and sells the energy produced by the system at rates far below the conventional electricity rates, saving your electricity bills. The agreement is valid for about 10-15 years, at the end of which the ownership of the PV system is automatically transferred to you, provided you enter into Solar PPA with Minus CO2.
Solar Power Purchase Agreement democratizes solar energy; it lets those who cannot afford the hefty initial investment required to install solar PV system switch to solar energy easily. Read More
4. Why Go Solar?
a. Depleting reserves of non-renewable energy sources – The conventional energy sources, such as coal, petroleum and natural gas, we have long been dependent upon are being depleted at an alarming rate. If we do not switch to clean, renewable energy resources, the future looks bleak!
b. Save money – Going solar lets you save your electricity bills! If you purchase your own Solar PV system, you can save up to 80% of your bills, while entering into Solar PPA with Minus Co2 will let you save up to 30% on your electricity bills.
c. Environmental benefits – Going solar reduces the carbon footprint you leave, in other words, you do not contribute to greenhouse gas emissions that are heating up the earth’s atmosphere and are jeopardizing the planet’s future! Read More
5. Does a Solar PV system produce the same energy output throughout the day?
The short answer is NO. Solar PV system needs sunlight to produce electricity and hence functions from sunrise to sunset. The production of electricity reaches its peak during noon. But since your solar PV system is integrated with the conventional electricity grid or has batteries for storage, you will be supplied electricity 24*7.
If your Solar PV system is integrated with conventional electricity grid, also known as the on-grid system, the excess energy your system produces is supplied to the grid, earning you credits against which you can derive power from the grid when your system isn’t producing much power. This is known as net metering.
6. What factors are important to consider when planning to go solar?
When you plan to go solar, consider these
a. Your energy requirements – How much of your energy needs can your Solar PV system meet?
b. Savings – How much money will you save on switching to solar energy?
c. Site conditions and solar energy generation potential – Is there enough shadow-free space on land or roof upon which the Solar PV system can be built?
d. Investment – How much money are you willing to invest in the system? Do you plan to purchase the Solar PV system or enter into Solar PPA with a solar company?
7. Can solar be my sole energy source?
Technically, yes. But practically, it is not recommended. If your solar PV system has batteries for storage, then your system might be built to be self-sufficient. But since solar batteries are pretty expensive, this is not recommended unless you live in a remote location where the conventional electricity grid hasn’t yet reached.
Usually, the solar PV system is integrated with your conventional electricity grid such that your energy requirements are first met by the solar power and then by the grid. This collaboration is well-explained in our article on net-metering. Click here
8. What is the life and reliability of a Solar PV System?
A solar PV system is expected to last for 25 years or more. The inverter that forms an integral part of any solar PV system will have to be replaced once in this duration.