Solar cells, also called photovoltaic cells, convert sunlight directly into electricity. Photovoltaics “PV” gets its name from the process of converting light to electricity , which is called the photovoltaic effect. PV materials and devices convert sunlight into electrical energy. A single PV device is known as a cell. An individual PV cell is usually small; it typically is sized at about 1 or 2 Watts. To increase the power output of PV cells, the cells are connected in chains to form larger units known as modules or panels. Modules can be used individually, or several can be connected to form arrays. One or more arrays is then connected to the electrical grid as a PV system. Because of this modular structure, PV systems can be built to meet almost any electrical energy output, small or large. Today, electrical energy from solar cells has become cost competitive in many regions and PV systems are being deployed at large scales to help power the electric grid.
Information sourced from NREL and DOE.
The amount of kWh produced by solar panels is dependent on factors such as shading, direction of solar panels, and weather. A general solar production estimate for a rooftop solar system in Indiana (with a 15% capacity factor) is approximately 1,300 kilowatt hours (“kWh”) per year for every kW. Therefore, an average of 108 kWh per month, per kW installed. There is more solar production in summer months than winter. However, a solar installer should provide production expectations in a quote.
There are several factors that determine the payback period for solar panels. In order to better understand specific project economics, there are tools like Project Sunroof that you can reference.
Factors include shading of the location, overall system size, installation (self install or contractor) costs, inverter costs, utility rate tariffs, pitch of the roof (if rooftop solar), and financing options.
AES Indiana customers may be eligible for credits for self-generation. Please see additional information at www.aesindiana.com/rates-tariffs
AES Indiana commercial and industrial customers should consider whether their electric service rate includes a charge for demand (kW). Solar panels may have no impact on monthly demand, since there are periods of darkness, storms, or otherwise low production from solar panels. In addition, solar power can have a negative impact on the overall Power Factor for that service. More information can be found under “Billing Impact, Customer Generation Eligibility and Other Information" at www.aesindiana.com/rates-tariffs