ENERGY PAYBACK TIME: The time it takes for a solar panel to generate the same amount of energy required for its manufacture. A modern solar panel’s energy payback time is typically from 1 to 4 years, depending on the panels type and location. A typical panel lifetime is 20 to 30 years. This means that modern solar installations are net energy producers, i.e., they generate significantly more energy over their lifetime than the energy required to produce them.
FEED-IN TARIFF: Price scheme where the owner of a (solar) power system receives a guaranteed, fixed price from electricity companies for the electricity fed into the grid.
FINANCIAL INCENTIVES PROGRAMS: Several countries offer financial incentive schemes that make the cost of the system cheaper for the end user. These financial incentive schemes can be feed-in tariffs, tax credits and others.
GRID-CONNECTED OR GRID-TIED INSTALLATION: Solar power installation connected to the electric grid.
GRID PARITY: Grid parity is achieved when solar cells can produce electricity at the same price as the electrical energy you can buy off the grid, (or less) without subsidies or feed-in tariffs.
IEA: International Energy Agency.
INVERTER: A unit that converts the electricity from the solar installation (DC – Direct Current) to electricity that is compatible with the grid (AC – Alternating Current).
kW: Kilowatt, Unit of power (1 000 watts).
kWh: Kilowatt-hour, a unit of energy equal to the production or consumption of one kW (1000 watts) for one hour.
OFF-GRID INSTALLATION: Solar power installation not connected to the electric grid. Normally used in areas where grid-connected electricity is unavailable or available only at a high cost.
PHOTOVOLTAICS (photo=light, voltaic=electricity): Solar cells are made of silicon. When a photon (particle of sunlight) strikes a molecule within the solar cell, an electron is knocked free. An electrical field causes this free electron to move to one side of the cell. The accumulated effect of millions of this interaction generates electricity.
SOLAR CELL: A semiconductor device that creates electricity when exposed to sunlight. Solar cells are usually made from silicon wafers.
SOLAR ENERGY: Refers to electricity or heat energy made from solar radiation.
SOLAR PANEL: An interconnected assembly of solar cells covered by a glass front, a polymer back sheet and aluminum frame. The photovoltaic panel, more commonly known as the solar panel or solar module, is then used as a component in a larger photovoltaic system or installation to offer electricity for commercial, residential or large-scale applications.