Literally translated, Photovoltaic means light-electricity. Naturally available and abundant clean sunlight is converted into electrical energy by Photovoltaic (PV) materials.
The space industry in the 60’s began to make the first serious use of PV technology to provide power aboard spacecraft. The technology continued to advance, its reliability was established, and the cost began to decline. During the energy crisis in the 1970s, photovoltaic technology gained recognition as a source of power for non-space applications.
Simple PV systems have been around a while and have been used to drive everyday consumer items such as calculators and wristwatches. The more complex systems provide power for communications satellites, water pumps, lights, appliances, and machines in many homes and businesses. Traffic signs, billboards, roadside emergency telephones are now also powered by PV.
There are very clear environmental benefits of solar such as cleaner air, no hazardous waste and zero water use in the production of electricity. These factors alone are compelling reasons to consider the installation of a PV solar system.
Several factors have converged that have made green alternatives “green” from a monetary perspective. These are falling panel prices, improvements in the quality of balance of system (BOS) components, competitive solar labor market and a generous federal subsidy (Investment Tax Credit of 30%) that is in place through 2016.
The flip side of this is the continual rise of energy rates at 6.7% annually and is expected to continue to accelerate upwards.
As energy rates increase and people make more environmentally “friendly” decisions, PV power is fast becoming the least expensive and “greenest” form of electricity. All of these factors combined make it a perfect time right now to consider a renewable, highly efficient, PV system. Panel prices have stabilized and waiting for it to fall further won’t have any appreciable net effect as utility incentives diminish.
Waiting too long could also jeopardize the ability to participate in the state run net metering program that makes the grid-tied solar possible. This is because the state is nearing its cap of 5% of peak generation to qualify for net-metering.