The Alliance of Sector Skills Councils

Solar Photovoltaics

What are solar photovoltaic systems?
Photovoltaic systems (solar PV) utilise the sun’s energy, converting this to electricity which is stored in cells.  PV systems do not need direct sunlight and continue to generate some electricity even on cloudy days because they only require daylight to operate.

What are the benefits?
PV systems can substantially reduce CO2 emissions and produce no greenhouse gases.  In areas of high solar gain, there can be a marked cost saving on fuel bills.

How does it work?
Photovoltaic systems use PV cells to convert sunlight into power.  The cells generate an electric field across layers of a semi-conductor.  The degree of power generated depends on the intensity of light, with more electricity being produced on sunny days and less on dull days or if the panels are in shaded for part of the day.  Systems can be grid-connected, requiring very little maintenance, or standalone, requiring a higher degree of maintenance on system components such as storage batteries.

Grants available
The Community Sustainable Energy Programme (CSEP) is an open grants programme run by BRE, an award partner of the Big Lottery Fund. Part of the Fund's Changing Spaces programme, CSEP has been set up to help not-for-profit community based organisations in England to reduce their energy bills and environmental impact. Both capital and project development grants are available under this scheme. Capital grants are available for the purchase and installation of a range of low carbon technologies such as solar water heating, photovoltaics or wood fuelled boilers, along with various energy efficiency measures such as cavity wall insulation. Project Development Grants are available for feasibility studies. See http://www.communitysustainable.org.uk/

More information - Energy Saving Trust

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