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Solar Energy – A Brief Introduction

Solar energy is primarily collected through the use of photovoltaic cells, known more commonly as solar cells. Solar energy is converted to electricity through a process known as the photoelectric effect. Solar cells produce direct current (DC) electricity which can be used immediately or stored in a battery for future use.

Solar energy, in reference to photovoltaics (PV), is measured in “peak sun hours”. One peak sun hour is equivalent to 1000 watts of energy received over one square meter for one hour (kwh/m^2). The power output of a solar panel is directly related to the amount of sunlight available.

Energy Available Relative to Full Sun
Condition Intensity
Full sun-panel square to sun 100%
Full sun-panel at 45 degree angle to sun 71%
Light overcast 60-80%
Heavy overcast 20-30%
Inside window, single pane, double strength glass, window and module square to sun 91%
Inside window, double pane, double strength glass, window and moduel square to sun 84%
Inside window, single pane, double strength glass, window module at 45 degree angle to sun 64%
Indoor office light - at desk top 0.4%
Indoor light - store lighting 1.3%
Indoor light - home 0.2%

Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Resource Potential

 

 
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