How does solar power work?

Solar panels (often referred to as “modules”) are constructed of electricity generating solar “cells” made of silicon. These are laid out in rows, and sandwiched (“laminated”) between a clear top sheet and a strong, flexible backing sheet, like aluminium.

This laminated module is then framed and has connectors added, making it ready for installation.

The solar cells are light activated semi-conductors, made from benign silicon compounds, which convert sunlight into electricity.

Photons (light particles) force the release of negative electrons within the silicon, leaving a positive ‘hole’ behind. By creating alternately charged layers within the cells, the negative electrons and the positive ‘holes’ cannot reconnect, thus forcing the negative electrons to flow around the circuit, generating electricity.

UK renewable electricity generation

The manufactured cost of solar PV has fallen dramatically in recent years and is rapidly approaching “grid parity”, where it will be the same price as delivered electricity.

Solar farms are the lowest cost way of producing solar electricity, delivering power straight into the grid.

Their disadvantage compared to rooftop solar installations is that they do not deliver the power at the point of use.

However, many premises are not suitable to have solar PV roof installations and Solafields can install many thousands of houses worth of solar panels in suitable, low profile locations, without the expense of accessing thousands of roofs and separate metering points.