How sunmills work
Some people call them solar panels, but their more technical name is photovoltaic panels (or solar cells) sometimes referred to as PV. Photo meaning ‘light’, Voltaic meaning ‘electricity’.
We like to call them sunmills – just as we have windmills that generate electricity from the wind, our sunmills generate electricity from the sun.
But what are solar panels and how do they work?
Well, they’re made with thin slices of silicon. And the sun’s rays consist of photons.
When photons from the sun hit the silicon they create an electrical charge. This charge is collected to form an electrical current.
No moving parts, just electricity – from the sun hitting silicon.
It’s quite space age stuff. And literally so, having been developed to power remote space equipment, like satellites and the space station, of course.
To generate electricity from the sun on a large scale – enough to power homes and businesses through the grid – takes a lot of sunmills, and we mean a lot.
For example, our first sun park is 1MW in size, occupying almost five acres of land and consisting of 5157 panels, joined together. It will make enough green electricity each year to power about 250 homes.
The energy payback for this technology (the amount of time it takes to get back the energy used in manufacturing and installing our sun parks) is around two years. After that, for the next 20 to 25 years, sun parks bring a big net gain of clean energy and avoided carbon emissions.