Photovoltaic cells (PVs) are a very different technology from solar water heating, and
use light to generate electricity. They are particularly well suited to sites where a
grid connection would be difficult or expensive or that are only used in the summer.
For an independent power supply, solar works well with wind as there is a good balance
of both over the year. Solar electricity, like electricity from other renewable energy
sources, doesn't produce carbon dioxide or harm the environment.
Although start-up costs are higher than other
renewable technologies, PVs have key advantages:
- there are no moving parts to fix so they are
relatively easy to install and maintain
- they can be sited in urban areas and are not
restricted in the way that wind and hydro-power systems are
- they can replace other roofing materials, for
example tiles. The cells are embedded in a flat, waterproof material to form
'modules', which make ideal cladding material for walls and roofs
- they need not take up any additional land space.