As we know, the ultimate source of solar energy is the sun. However, in order to make use of this energy, it must be captured and processed into forms that can power machinery or perform other duties. This requires setting up solar panels and other equipment.
The most common types of solar panels turn the sun’s energy into electricity. Technically known as photovoltaic (PV) panels, they are typically set up in arrays in locations that get plenty of sunlight. They produce DC current, which is later converted to AC by different components.
Each PV cell only generates one or two watts of electricity. To get a useful amount of power, several cells are put inside each solar panel. Then, multiple panels are connected to each other to form arrays. A solar panel array may contain a few panels, as seen in residential installations; or it can be big enough to cover acres, as may be done for commercial grid energy production. There are also plenty of in-between array sizes.
Other Parts of a Solar Power Generation System
Mounting hardware holds the panels up, and in some cases, allows them to track the sun as it travels across the sky.
Batteries are often used to collect the solar energy during the day. At night, the batteries provide power so the electricity doesn’t go off in the darkness. Batteries can also kick in on cloudy days.
The power may be converted from DC to AC by an inverter. This is needed to power household appliances and most other devices.
In many cases, there will be devices that allow solar panel systems to be connected to “the grid,” or the main power distribution system, of the area.
Where Are the Biggest Solar Farms?
The biggest PV solar farms in the United States are in California. There, the Solar Star PV power station produces 579 megawatts of electricity. The next-biggest PV solar farms in California produce 550 megawatts each.
Solar Panels in Commercial Locations
Many companies have a large amount of roof space that is otherwise unused, and they also have big buildings that need a lot of electricity for lighting and equipment. This makes them excellent places to set up solar power generation. They have enough room to install sufficient panels to meet their power needs, and will save enough money to make converting to solar worthwhile. Converting may also lower their carbon footprints, and in some areas, this brings financial benefits as well as goodwill points.
Companies that want to provide charging services for electric vehicle (EV) users often find that they need to install solar panels to get enough electricity or to make a profit from the service.
In some areas, there already is a shortage of grid power thanks to the increased demand from EV users. This can make the cost of grid power prohibitively high, or in extreme cases, cause the power company to refuse to allow a charging station to tie in at all. Since solar panels can be set up on carport roofs or in fields, they provide a way for apartment operators, owners of dedicated charging stations, fleet operators, and others to charge all of the vehicles they want to without concerns about overloading the grid.
Collecting Heat from the Sun’s Rays
Some solar systems don’t generate power directly. Instead, they collect the sun’s heat, which is then used to heat up water. At a residence, the hot water is then used like any other hot water, and may be used for steam heat as well. However, the most impressive heat-collecting arrays are used by big power plants. In these installations, the heat is used to generate steam, which in turn is used to spin giant turbines. This provides an ecologically friendly alternative to burning coal or gas for this purpose.
Notably, a heat collection array doesn’t use PV panels. Instead, it uses mirrors to concentrate the sun’s rays onto a single spot. The heat is then transferred to water pipes or other destinations.
These systems are rarely used by private individuals or companies. Instead, they are more commonly run by municipalities for their power plants.
Get Solar Energy for Your Business
Now that you know the basics of how PV solar panels work and how they can benefit your business, it’s time to take the next step. Contact Enerform Solar Solutions to get a solar array set up on your commercial building, carport, or even in your nearby field. Your company will be free of high electricity bills, costs that go up during peak hours, usage restrictions, and other problems that come from depending on the grid for your energy. It will also be more environmentally friendly and generate goodwill because of it.
Call Enerform Solar Solutions today to discuss your company’s needs, solar panel installation possibilities, and financing options. We’ll be glad to answer all of your questions and bring you and your company freedom from the grid.