Solar power is one of the most visible renewable energy options and has incredible potential as a source of long-term clean energy. It is important to distinguish between the two main types of solar power: solar thermal and photovoltaic (PV). Solar thermal uses the sun to heat hot water, and is typically used for home or business hot-water applications in conjunction with a traditional gas or electric hot water heater. Photovoltaics, which are what many people first think of when they hear “solar power,” turn sunlight into electricity.
For most home and business applications, solar-thermal is both a cheaper and a more economically beneficial option. Complete systems are not only cheaper than most PV systems, but they almost always have shorter payback periods. PV technology is improving rapidly, however, and can make sense for a variety of applications. Below are some links and documents relating to solar energy.
Department of Energy:
- Solar Energy
- Solar hot water
- Photovoltaics (PVs)
- Solar in Virginia
- Maryland-DC-Virginia Solar Energy Industries Association
- Virginia Solar Power Rebates, Tax Credits, and Incentives
- EMU’s solar array