Solar panels use photovoltaic (PV) technology to generate electrical power from daylight. Solar PV does not rely on intensive sunlight, daylight is sufficient for electricity generation. In that regard, the UK and Ireland have the capacity to generate significant volumes of solar energy.
The panels generate direct current. This is transformed via inverters into alternating current which is suitable for connection to the electricity network.
Photovoltaic technology has been in use for over fifty years, with most of us familiar with the solar powered calculator. Advances in technology have improved the efficiency and reliability of photovoltaic devices and grid connected solar panels have been in mass production worldwide since the early 2000s
As manufacturing scale increases, the cost of production is falling and solar PV is becoming an increasingly popular energy source globally.
Solar is now a mature technology which has been proven to have a minimal impact on the environment. Solar Farms do not have polluting emissions, are quiet and are generally not considered to be an eyesore.
As investment in solar rises globally the cost of technology is falling and solar is now the second cheapest form of renewable energy generation after onshore wind in Northern Europe.
The UK has so far deployed 12GW of solar PV developments. Solar power today accounts for roughly 2% of global electricity demand and 3.5% of European electricity demand, with that figure doubling for countries like Italy, Germany and Greece.
Solar helps provide energy security. In Ireland for example, almost €6 billion was spent on importing fossil fuels in 2014 alone.