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Source: Solarpraxis AG

The sun - a Reliable Source of Energy

The United States is well suited for the use of solar power. Most of the nation is exposed to high levels of irradiation every day. Even in parts of the nation confronted with rainy summers and dark winter months, solar power can still be put to use economically.

Depending on the location, the average annual amount of energy PV modules will be exposed to totals between 950 to 2,150 kilowatt hours per square meter (kWh/m2). This is a lot considering that 1,000 kWh/m2 is equal to the energy of about 25 gallons of heating oil. So you can see that the energy potential is already there and PV systems are an excellent way to put it to work for you.



Source: Meteotest Bern Switzerland

Ample Sun throughout the Nation

The sunlight that your solar system is exposed to is sometimes “direct” or unobstructed by clouds. At other times the sunlight is “diffused”, that is, filtered to some degree either by clouds or the atmosphere in the more northern parts of the country. Solar technology can utilize either form of sunlight. The seasons, elevation and angle of the sun also affect the usable amount of energy. In the northwest for example, the amount of diffused sunlight caused by clouds is relatively high. However, even diffused sunlight can be effectively harnessed to produce electricity by using a well-designed photovoltaic system.



PV Modules – the Cooler the Better

It seems counterintuitive because PV modules are made to be mounted in the sun, but the fact is that they perform better when cooler – in fact, the ideal temperature is right around 25°C.
This means that PV systems up in the clear air and cool temperatures of the mountains will perform better than a system of the same size located in the desert. The amount of direct sunlight at the equator for example, is much higher than in the latitudes in North America; however, the high ambient temperatures heat the modules up and therefore reduce the overall system performance considerably. The power loss is approximately 0.4 % per °C for common PV modules.
So although the sunlight is weaker in North America as compared to South America, the temperatures are cooler making the PV modules more efficient. This compensates for the lower intensity of the sun.


Solar energy is also interesting from an architectural perspective.
As solar systems become more and more popular, the variety of shapes and sizes for PV modules is increasing. Building Integrated PV (BIPV) allows for a more creative and appealing system design by actually incorporating the PV modules into the structure.

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