Solar energy is not just a great way to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. It’s also a great way to reduce your electricity bill, using BC Hydro’s Net Metering program.
Net Metering works like this: On days when your solar panels produce more energy than your home or building uses, the surplus energy goes into the BC Hydro grid, and you receive credit for it. The grid thus acts like a bank, where you can store credit and use it when needed.
Basic Information About Solar Energy
by Darren Anderson
There are two main types of solar energy commonly used – solar photovoltaic (electrical) and solar thermal (heating and cooling). The SSES focuses on solar photovoltaics (PV).
Photovoltaic (PV) modules, or solar panels as they are commonly known, are made up of light-sensitive materials that turn light energy directly into electrical energy. We can harness that electricity for charging batteries, or convert it to standard household electricity, (120V 60Hz alternating current), using what is called an ‘inverter’.
The most common type of solar system is the grid-tied system wherein solar panels are mounted on the roof of a building or as a ground-based system. The panels are connected directly to inverters, which in turn are connected to the building’s electrical service panel. The energy from this type of system is either used directly in the building (self-consumption), sent back to the grid via net-metering, or a combination of both.
The basic setup involves four components: solar panels to generate the energy, racking to mount the panels, inverter(s) to convert the solar energy to household electricity, and a system of small components (wires, circuit breakers, etc.) to tie it all together.
Solar panels can be mounted on a sloping roof, flat roof, or as a separate ground-based system. There are various ways to fasten solar panels firmly in place, designed to handle strong winds and heavy snow loads. Some roof-mounted systems are designed to avoid placing nails or screws in the roof.
There are many great resources online for learning about solar energy, and we recommend using the following links to discover more if you are interested.