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Solar Jargon

Understanding the world of solar energy can initially be difficult due to the array of technical terms and industry jargon. But worry not; we’re here to guide you through with our Solar Power Jargon Guide, making it easier for you to embrace this renewable energy source.
 
Let’s dive into this comprehensive UK Solar Power Jargon Buster!

Solar Energy

Solar energy refers to the energy emitted from the sun, which can be captured and converted into usable power for various purposes. In the context of residential or commercial use, this is often achieved through solar panels.
 
 

Solar Panels

Solar panels, also known as modules, are the primary components of a solar energy system. They are devices designed to absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity. The most commonly used solar panels are photovoltaic (PV) panels, which transform sunlight into Direct Current (DC) electricity.
 

Solar batteries

Solar batteries are a really important part of a solar power system. These batteries store energy created by the solar panels in the form of electricity, allowing you to utilise it when the sun is not shining. Solar batteries come in various types, such as lead-acid, lithium-ion, and nickel-cadmium battery types. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages.

 

 

 

 

Solar inverter

A solar inverter plays a vital role in solar power systems, as it transforms the direct current (DC) produced by solar panels into alternating current (AC), which is suitable for use in residential and commercial settings. These inverters are available in a variety of types and sizes, including compact micro-inverters and more substantial string inverters.
 
 

Electrical Grid

The electrical grid comprises an interconnected system of power lines, substations, and various elements that facilitate the transmission of electricity from its generation point to consumers. This grid encompasses power plants, transmission towers, and distribution networks, forming the essential infrastructure for distributing solar energy to residential and commercial locations. Solar panels generate direct current (DC) electricity, necessitating the use of an inverter to transform it into alternating current (AC) for practical use.
 


Cadmium Telluride

Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) is a type of photovoltaic material used in some solar panels. It is made from the combination of two elements, cadmium and tellurium, which form light-absorbing crystals that can convert sunlight into usable electricity. CdTe solar cells have been found to be more efficient than other types of solar cells.
 
 
 

Hybrid Inverter

A hybrid inverter is a type of solar power inverter that combines the features of both string and microinverters. It utilises multiple strings of solar panels to generate maximum energy output. The main benefit of a hybrid inverter is its ability to safely isolate each array or group of arrays from one another, allowing for system flexibility and more efficient operation.
 


Photovoltaic Devices

A photovoltaic device, or PV device for short, is a type of solar energy technology that converts light from the sun into electricity. PV devices are composed of semiconductor materials, such as silicon, and are typically attached to the roof of a house or building. They work by absorbing sunlight and then converting it into direct current (DC) electricity.
 


Solar Cells

Each solar panel is made up of numerous solar cells, which are the individual units within the panel that convert sunlight into electricity. Solar cells are usually made of silicon, which is a semiconductor material.
 
 
 

Domestic Arrays

Domestic arrays are a type of solar power system designed for residential homes. These systems typically consist of one or more solar panels, an inverter, and other components like mounting racks. Domestic arrays are designed to provide electricity to homes without the need for a grid connection. This is done by converting the energy from the sun into usable electricity that can be used in appliances, lighting, and other electrical devices.
 

 

Solar Panel Efficiency

This is a measure of how well a solar panel converts sunlight into electricity. Generally, the higher the efficiency rating of a solar panel, the greater the power it can generate for its given size. Efficiency ratings range from around 10-20% for older panels to up to 25-30% for newer, more advanced solar panels. There are various factors that affect the efficiency of a solar panel.
 


Copper Indium Diselenide

Copper Indium Diselenide (CIS) is a type of semiconductor made up of copper, indium, and selenium. It is used in the fabrication of thin-film solar cells for the purpose of generating electricity from solar energy. CIS offers a number of advantages over traditional crystalline silicon-based solar cells, such as lower cost, higher efficiency, and improved
 


Solar Canopies

Solar canopies are a great way to bring solar energy to your home or business. They are a type of solar panel installation that allows you to have the benefits of solar without having to worry about traditional rooftop panels. Solar canopies collect and convert sunlight into electricity, which can then be used in your home or business. These systems typically consist of several steel frames and PV modules mounted on
 
 

Carbon offsets

Carbon offsets represent a strategy to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions, often produced by activities like burning fossil fuels. This approach involves directing funds into renewable energy ventures, including solar and wind power. By investing in these projects, traditional energy sources are substituted with cleaner alternatives, leading to a decrease in potential carbon dioxide emissions.

 
 

Mono modules

Mono modules are a type of solar Panel composed of monocrystalline photovoltaic cells. Monocrystalline cells are made from single-crystal silicon, which is the most efficient form of solar energy available today. Mono modules offer greater efficiency than other types of panels, such as polycrystalline and thin film. As a result, they produce more power per square foot.
 
 

Energy Audit

This is an assessment of the energy efficiency of a home, building, or other structure. It looks at how much energy is being used and where it is being used so that the homeowner can make changes to become more energy efficient. During an energy audit, a professional will review the home’s utility bills, test appliances for efficiency, and inspect areas such as insulation and
 
 

Photovoltaic (PV)

Photovoltaic (PV) is a term derived from the word “photo”, meaning light, and “voltaic”, meaning electricity. Consequently, photovoltaic refers to the conversion of light into electricity. This is the fundamental principle behind how solar panels work.
 
 

Monocrystalline

Monocrystalline solar cells are made from a single crystal structure of silicon. They offer the highest efficiency rates among solar cells due to their purity and are identifiable by their uniform dark look and rounded edges.
 


Polycrystalline

Polycrystalline solar cells are made of fragments of silicon crystals melted together. They are slightly less efficient than monocrystalline cells but are generally more affordable.
 


Thin-film

Thin-film solar cells are made by depositing one or more thin layers of photovoltaic material onto a substrate. These solar cells are cost-effective and flexible, making them suitable for a variety of applications.
 
 

Direct Current (DC)

Direct Current (DC) is an electric current flowing in one direction. Solar panels generate DC electricity when they convert sunlight into energy.

 

 

Alternating Current (AC)

An alternating Current (AC) is an electric current that changes its direction and magnitude periodically. In the UK, AC is the standard form of electricity used in homes and businesses.
 


Inverter

An inverter is a crucial component of your solar power system. It converts the DC electricity produced by your solar panels into AC power, which can be used by the appliances in your home or exported back to the grid.
 
 

Kilowatt-peak (kWp)

Kilowatt-peak (kWp) is a standard unit used to rate the performance of solar photovoltaic (PV) modules under ideal sunlight and temperature conditions. It represents the maximum amount of power these modules can produce.
 


Kilowatt Hour (kWh)

kilowatt hour (kWh) is a measure of electrical energy equivalent to a power consumption of 1000 watts for 1 hour. It’s the unit of measurement typically used to calculate the amount of energy a solar array will generate and the amount of electricity consumed by a home or business.
 
 

Solar Array

solar array is a collection of solar panels working together to generate electricity. The size of the solar array will depend on several factors, including your energy needs and the available space for installation.
 


Mounting System

The mounting system refers to the various components used to secure the solar panels on your roof or any other suitable location.
 
 

Export and Import

Exporting refers to the process where unused solar energy is fed back into the grid while importing is when additional energy is drawn from the grid when your solar panels are not generating enough power to meet your needs.
 
 

Feed-in Tariff (FIT)

The Feed-in Tariff (FIT) was a UK government scheme that paid homeowners for the electricity generated by their solar panels. The FIT scheme ended in March 2019.
 
 

What does Kwp stand for?

Kwp stands for “Kilowatt peak”. It is a standard used in the solar industry to describe the power output capacity of a solar panel under ideal conditions. Essentially, it’s a measure of how much power a solar panel could produce if it were operating in perfect sunlight conditions. This measurement helps customers compare the potential performance of different solar panels.
 
 

Solar panel kwh

KWh stands for kilowatt-hour, which is a unit of energy. When used in the context of solar panels, it refers to the amount of electrical energy that the solar panels can produce or generate in one hour under optimal conditions. For example, a solar panel rated at 1 KWh can produce 1 kilowatt of power in an hour when exposed to full sunlight. The KWh rating of solar panels is crucial because it helps homeowners and businesses estimate how much electricity the solar panels can produce and, thus, the potential savings on their energy bills.

 

 

What does PV stand for in solar?

In the context of solar energy, “PV” stands for “Photovoltaic.” This term originates from the word “photo,” meaning light, and “voltaic,” referring to the production of electricity. Therefore, photovoltaic essentially means electricity from light. In a solar system, photovoltaic technology converts sunlight directly into electricity using solar cells, typically made of silicon. This is the principle behind the functioning of solar panels.

 

 

What are bifacial solar modules?

Bifacial solar modules are a type of solar panel that can generate power from both sides, front and back. Unlike traditional solar panels, which only capture light on one side, bifacial modules are designed to absorb sunlight from the front and reflect light from the back. This dual-sided design boosts power generation by up to 30%, making bifacial solar modules significantly more efficient. They are typically installed on highly reflective surfaces or elevated structures to maximize sunlight exposure on the rear side.
 

What is Solar panel capacity?

Solar panel capacity is the amount of solar energy that a panel can convert into usable electricity, typically measured in watts (W). It is determined by the panel’s size, the efficiency of its solar cells, and the amount of sunlight it receives. For instance, a 300W solar panel, under ideal conditions, should generate 300 watts of power per hour. However, actual output can vary due to factors such as weather, the angle of the sun, and physical obstructions. This is why capacity is often referred to as the maximum potential power generation.

 

What is a PV unit?

A PV unit, or Photovoltaic unit, is a mechanism that converts sunlight into electricity. This conversion is done via solar cells, commonly made from silicon, which absorb sunlight and generate a flow of electrons, creating an electrical current. One PV unit refers to a solar panel or array with a capacity to produce one kilowatt (1kW) of power. PV units are widely used in solar power generation systems, contributing to sustainable and renewable energy solutions.
 
 

Smart Export Guarantee (SEG)

Replacing the FIT scheme, the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) took effect on 1 January 2020. It guarantees payments to small-scale, low-carbon generators, including homeowners, for the electricity they export back to the grid.
 
 
 

The End Result: Cleaner Energy and a Greener  Planet

Solar energy offers numerous benefits, from reducing energy bills and carbon footprint to contributing to a sustainable and energy-efficient future. With this solar jargon buster, you should feel more confident in understanding and discussing solar energy concepts. Remember, adopting solar power leads to savings and plays an important role in combating climate change.


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