The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) plan to regulate carbon emissions is just the latest challenge facing the U.S. electric power system. Technological innovation is disrupting old ways of doing business and accelerating grid modernization. Earlier this year, AEE released Advanced Energy Technologies for Greenhouse Gas Reduction, a report detailing the use, application, and benefits of 40 specific advanced energy technologies and services. This post is one in a series drawn from the technology profiles within that report.
Solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems convert sunlight directly into electricity. PV modules (panels) produce direct current, which is converted to grid-compatible alternating current through an inverter. The flat-plate PV modules are commonly mounted on the roofs of residential and commercial buildings. The two main PV materials used in modules are crystalline silicon and thin-films such as cadmium telluride. The former is more commonly used for residential and commercial buildings due to its higher efficiency and associated smaller footprint, which is a desirable characteristic for rooftop applications.