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Solar energy is energy that is sourced from the light or heat radiation coming from the sun.
Electricity can be produced directly from solar, or photovoltaic cells (photo = light and voltaic = electricity). These cells are made from discs of silicon, or other material, which are mounted in panels. When sunshine hits the PV cell, the photons of light excite the electrons in the cell and cause them to flow, generating electricity.
Solar energy produces electricity when it is in high demand – during the day, particularly hot days when air-conditioners drive up electricity demand.
In use, solar power produces no emissions. One megawatt hour of solar electricity offsets about one tonne of CO2.
PV panels are being used increasingly, both in the city and in remote locations, to produce electricity for households, schools and communities, and to supply power for equipment such as telecommunication and water pumps. The majority of solar PV installations in Australia are grid-connected systems.
Also, electricity for remote and regional Australian communities have been supplied by solar power for many years.
Australia is one of the sunniest countries in the world and there is huge potential for solar PV to make a significant contribution to electricity generation.
The total PV power installed globally at the end of 2010 was around 40,000 megawatts up from 9,000MW in 2007. The top solar energy producers are Germany, Spain, Japan, Italy and the US with the Czech Republic also rapidly installing capacity.
Verve Energy has a small photovoltaic system at Kalbarri, the first grid-connected solar farm in Australia (built 1995) and is installing Australia’s biggest solar farm, the 10MW Greenough River Solar Farm, near Geraldton.
See our Sustainable portfolio.