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How Solar Energy Works

Photovoltaic System Array

Sunlight striking PV panels is turned into electricity. Photovoltaic (PV) cells linked together create panels. Multiple panels are called a solar array. Solar arrays can mount on the ground using frames or stand alone poles, but rooftop mounting is the most popular. PV cells convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity using semi-conducting materials (silicon, for example). The DC current feeds through wires into electrical boxes and switches usually mounted on the side of your building.

Utility Grid-Tied

There are two primary ways to use PV electricity: batteries or utility grid-tie. Everguard Solar specializes in utility grid-tie systems which are more cost effective where standard utility service is available in New Mexico. The roof-top or ground mounted PV system is “inter-connected” to the utility grid at your building’s main electrical service panel. Your building draws electricity first from your PV solar system. When your photovoltaic installation doesn’t produce enough power, the utility grid provides supplemental power.

PV Inverter

The inverter is an electronic device that converts direct current (DC) from the solar PV array to alternating current (AC). The inverter will deliver the same quality power that utility companies deliver to residences and businesses. Modern high-efficiency inverters are durable and safe, meeting rigid national and international electrical standards and codes. As on example, inverters inter-connected to utility systems must meet Underwriters Laboratories certification (UL1741).

Net Meter

Your existing electric meter interconnects the PV system with the utility power grid. However, the excess PV generated electricity will now spin the meter backwards sending power back into the utility grid. The meter spins forward and backwards, thus crediting or debiting you for power either produced or used. New Mexico has one of the best interconnection standards in the United States for customer solar electric systems and was further strengthened by the NM Public Regulation Commission in 2008.

Value of the PV electric power produced

As an example: in the PNM service area the value of the solar PV produced power (REC), coupled with net metering, make a strong cost-effective case for solar electric systems! As of 2009, the combined value is approximately 25 cents per kilowatt hour (kwh). When the REC payment and net metering benefit is combined with the 30% income tax credit (ITC), federal grants, and accelerated depreciation on commercial systems the economic return of solar systems is very beneficial. When the economic benefit is added to the environmental benefit the overall customer satisfaction is high.

 


More information regarding Photovoltaics and Renewable Energy can be found at Sandia National Laboratories website.

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