Photovoltaic (PV), or solar systems convert light into electricity. The key component in the system is a photovoltaic. Sunlight strikes the silicon wafer knocking electrons loose which can only flow in one direction, creating electrical current. Photovoltaic modules produce energy in direct current (DC) and is typically passed through an inverter to match the alternating current (AC) used in most facilities and devices.

How Solar Works

How Solar Works

A fixed solar array is one that does not rotate to follow the sun throughout the day (tracking). On average, a fixed solar array produces energy for about 7 hours per day when the sun is out. However, this can vary significantly based on the season, latitude, cloud cover, angle, and the tilt of the modules. Heat and soiling also reduce production.

The energy production of solar panels is too variable to connect directly to facilities and equipment, so it typically goes straight to the grid in exchange for credits or other payment. Pairing solar with batteries and switchgear can allow for the energy to be used locally.

The Sun's Path During
Summer and Winter

Tech Sun Path

Historical Mean *LCOE Values

*Levelized Cost of Energy


Source: energyinnovation.org

The cost of solar modules has come down enough in the last 10 years that solar energy is now the cheapest form of energy. Electricity from solar energy from huge arrays in sunny locations is sold for less than $0.02 per kilowatt. The cost of a solar system is dependent largely on the system size and the mounting method – ground mount, rooftop or carport. The cost is higher for smaller commercial and industrial systems, but it is still often less than retail energy cost.