For many years solar power has been used throughout the world as a clean, renewable energy source to convert sunlight into electricity. The technology is constantly evolving to make solar power a more efficient and reliable way of supplying the energy we all rely on. As it is such a rapidly changing industry, it can be hard to keep up with the latest developments and innovations, so here are just a few of the most frequently asked questions about solar panels and solar power.
How is Solar Energy Generated?
Solar energy is produced by harnessing the power of the sun’s rays using a photovoltaic cell to create electricity. This cell contains a semiconducting material, commonly silicon-based, that is positioned between a pair of electrical contacts. When sunlight shines on the panel it loosens some of the electrons from the atoms of the semiconductor. One side of the semiconductor is positively charged, the other negatively charged, this makes the loosened electrons flow in only one direction and creates an electric current.
Do I Need Planning Permission for solar panels on my roof?
If you have a pitched roof, then the chances are you won’t need planning permission for solar panels. The current regulations state that panels do not need planning permission if:
They do not exceed the existing roof height.
Do not stick out more than 20cm beyond the surface of the roof when it faces onto and is visible from the road.
Panels do not exceed the edges of the existing roof.
If you live within a conservation area or World Heritage Site, the roof the panels are fixed to should not be visible from a road.
Even if you don’t need planning permission, it is a good idea to carry out a structural survey to see if the roof will support the weight of new solar panels.
Can You Put Solar Panels on a flat roof?
Solar panels can easily be installed on flat roofs and the planning permission guidelines are broadly similar to those of pitched roofs. On flat roofs, panels are pitched at an angle so they can collect the maximum amount of the sun’s energy throughout the day. To get the panels at the most efficient angle, a mounting system is used that can be adjusted to gather the best of the sunlight.
How Does solar energy work?
Now, you may be asking how do these panels on the roof actually benefit me? The way it works is actually very simple, you use the energy your panels generate to power your home and any excess is fed into the National Grid. As solar panels last more than 40 years, the money earned from the electricity you feed into the grid should pay off the initial installation cost in under 10 years.
It doesn’t matter if you live in the North or South, solar panels will work anywhere in the UK and the good news is they will continue to generate power, even on cloudy days.