Photovoltaic solar arrays harness light energy emitted by the sun, and convert it into usable electricity.
The technology behind solar energy is based on a few simple scientific principals, the most important of which is that sunlight (photons) can be converted into electricity (electrons). The means of this conversion is found in photovoltaic solar collectors, or panels. When sunlight hits the array, it creates a flow of electrons that is converted into a current of energy—the same type of direct current that flows from a battery.
Friends Center has a 10 kilowatt solar array on top of its roof, which generates 1-2% of its electricity. Most importantly, it generates electricity during “peak loads,” those hot summer days when electricity to cool buildings is in high demand. These peak loads are the main driver for constructing new power plants. If everyone generated a 1% of their electric demand using solar panels, we could eliminate the need for new power plants that use fossil fuels.
The rest of Friends Center’s electricity is purchased from Pennsylvania wind and solar generation.
For more information on photovoltaics please see:
US Dept. of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office.