Solar electric or photovoltaic (PV) systems reliably produce electricity in Maine and have become an increasingly more affordable renewable energy option. Because PV technologies use both direct and scattered sunlight to create electricity, they can generate electricity even on cloudy days. However, the amount of power generated by a solar system at a particular site depends on how much of the sun’s energy reaches it.
A typical solar electric system is an array of solar modules or panels, mounted on racks and connected to the utility grid or to batteries through a power inverter. The performance of photovoltaic or solar electric systems is measured in terms of their efficiency at converting sunlight into electricity. There are a variety of solar electric systems and materials available, which vary in conversion efficiency.
- Modularity – PV systems can be sized to meet varied electric demands and sites, and can be connected to the utility grid or used off the grid. This flexibility allows you to size a system to meet demand and reduce electric costs. In Maine, PV systems that are connected to the grid can sign up for net metering with most utilities. Net metering allows you to receive credit for electricity generated against any electricity you consume during a 12 month period.
- Low-cost electricity – If sized to match current electric demand, PV panels can offset electric supply charges. PV panels can also significantly reduce the operating costs of high efficiency electric heat and cooling systems, such as ductless heat pumps or geothermal systems.
- Predictable energy costs – Solar electric systems can predictably produce power at no cost and can act as a hedge against future energy costs. When the rate of electricity goes up, your solar array increases in value proportionally.
- Durability – Solar photovoltaic systems are typically warrantied for electric production for 20 years or more.
- Environmental Impact – Reduce the carbon footprint of your home or business by producing electricity on-site with a renewable resource.
- Siting –Not all buildings or roofs are good candidates for photovoltaic installations. The most cost-effective installations are on southern-facing roofs with few obstructions or shading.
Homeowners interested in finding out more about solar electric systems can click here to go to the Department of Energy’s guide to solar photovoltaic systems.