PV cells are panels you can attach to your roof or walls. Each cell is made from one or two layers of semiconducting material, usually silicon. When light shines on the cell it creates an electric field across the layers. The stronger the sunshine, the more electricity is produced.
PV cells come in a variety of shapes and colours, from grey “solar tiles” that look like roof tiles to panels and transparent cells that you can use on conservatories and glass. The strength of a PV cell is measured in kilowatt peak (kWp). That’s the amount of energy the cell generates in full sunlight. The benefits of solar electricity:
* Cut your carbon footprint: solar electricity is green, renewables energy and doesn’t release any harmful carbon dioxide (CO2) or other pollutants. A typical home PV system could save around 1200 kg of CO2 per year – that’s around 30 tonnes over its lifetime.
* Cut your electricity bills: sunlight is free, so once you’ve paid for the initial installation your electricity costs will be greatly reduced. A typical home PV system can produce around 40% of the electricity a household uses in a year.
* Sell electricity back to the Grid: if your system is producing more electricity than you need, or when you can’t use it, someone else can use it – and you could make a bit of money. Read more about feed-in tariffs and selling electricity.
* Store electricity for a cloudy day: if your home isn’t connected to the national grid you can store excess electricity in batteries to use when you need it.