FAQs about Solar Energy

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Q: Do solar projects benefit the community?

A: Yes. Solar energy projects provide opportunities for employment, contributions to the local tax base, and positive effects on local businesses.

Q: How does photovoltaic technology work?

A: As sunlight hits the solar panels, the solar radiation is converted into direct current (DC) electricity. The direct current is collected on cables from each string of panels and flows into power inverters, where it is converted into alternating current (AC) electricity. AC electricity flows on the electrical grid and is used by homes and businesses. The AC electricity from the power inverters is again collected using a series of cables and delivered to a central electrical substation, where it passes through a power transformer. The transformer boosts the voltage of the current to match the voltage at the point of delivery at the local utility substation.

Q: What are the main components of a solar project?

A: The main components are the PV panel arrays, the power inverter units, the DC collection system, the AC collection system, and the substation/transformer. Each component is described in more detail below:

  • PV Panels and Racking System—These make up the bulk of the project. The panels are mounted onto a fixed structure at an angle designed to optimize energy collection throughout the year. Strings of these panels are connected in series. A group of panel strings are then connected to a power inverter unit.
  • The power inverter units collect output from the panel arrays and convert the power from direct current to alternating current. No power is produced at the inverter, it is simply a piece of equipment used to convert and control the energy generated by the solar field.
  • The electrical collection system is used to aggregate all the AC electricity produced by the inverter units spread out across the solar field and deliver it to the project substation; the cabling used by the system is generally located underground.
  • The project substation is used to transform the electricity to a higher voltage to match the operating voltage at the substation where the project will connect to the electrical grid. The project substation also contains disconnect switches and control equipment to protect both the project and the electrical grid in the event of an electrical fault or emergency.

Q: Can the equipment be damaged by wind?

A: The support systems for the solar arrays will be designed to withstand the typical wind loading present in this area.