Technology Research Area:
Photovoltaic Solar Energy
What is solar photovoltaic power, and what does it have to do with TVA's mission?
TVA has already added solar photovoltaic generation to its power mix and will continue to promote its development because of the agency's firm commitment to clean, efficient power generation.
Photovoltaic systems use silicon or thin film cells to convert sunlight into electric power. The environmental impact of this technology over the lifetime of a system is 2 percent to 3 percent of that of a coal-fired power plant. Solar panels produce no greenhouse gases, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide or particulate matter.
They convert as much as 18 percent to 25 percent of the sun's energy to DC electricity. Mounting panels on systems that track movement of the sun can boost efficiency as much as 20 percent.
What is TVA doing about it?
TVA owns and operates 300 kilowatts of solar panel generation at 15 installations throughout the TVA region. This power is used in the generation mix for TVA’s Green Power Switch. The Green Power Switch program encourages consumers to buy blocks of green power generated by TVA from solar photovoltaic, wind, biomass and low-impact hydropower.
TVA also purchases 1.85 megawatts of solar generation from homeowners and businesses under TVA’s Generation Partners program. Generation Partners provides technical support and incentives to homeowners and businesses for the installation of renewable generation systems such as solar panels on their property. The program makes more green power available for Green Power Switch subscribers and creates a market for private green power generation.
Both programs contribute to the incentives offered by utilities, state, national and local governments nationwide to boost development of solar power.
What are the possibilities for solar photovoltaic?
Photovoltaic generation is an established commercial alternative to fossil power, and it is undergoing rapid development.
Since generation of this power often takes place some distance from populated areas, power storage or transmission or both may be necessary to get the most out of it.
The drive to limit emissions from power generation combined with the dropping prices of solar panels will continue to drive development of the technology.