Photovoltaic systems, also known as solar power plants or solar arrays, are composed from multiple ‘solar panel’ modules that use light to generate electricity through semiconducting materials within the surface of the panels.
The PV modules convert the sun’s energy into direct current (DC) electricity. The DC electricity is then directed to an inverter, which converts it into alternating current (AC) electricity – as delivered by utility companies to commercial and residential consumers. PV systems operate silently, with no moving parts or carbon emission.
If the property’s demand for electricity is greater than the amount supplied by the PV system, the balance of the demand will be drawn from the local electricity distribution network (‘the grid’). If a PV system generates more electricity than required at the property, the excess is exported to the grid for consumption elsewhere.
Solar PV technology is often referred to as ‘distributed generation’, as demand for electricity is met by generation where it is needed, rather than generation by a power station and transported over large distances. Solar PV systems reduce the demand from power stations, thereby reducing carbon emissions resulting from the combustion of coal and gas.