The solar PV (photovoltaic) revolution has made solar energy an increasingly powerful force in the energy arena. Solar PV panels help us harvest radiant energy from the sun and convert it into electrical energy, which can be used immediately, stored in batteries for later use, or fed back into the electricity grid.
Do solar PV panels still work in cloudy or cooler weather?
While solar PV panels don’t generate as much electricity in cloudy conditions as during bright, sunny days, they still do their job, just at a reduced rate. Depending on your specific panels and the amount of cloud cover, solar panels can still produce 10-25% of their rated capacity.
Many people wrongly assume that solar PV panels don’t work in cold or cloudy places, but solar still excels, even in some of the world’s least sunny places. Germany, which ranks relatively low on the sunny scale, is recognised as a world leader in solar energy generation, with solar accounting for an estimated 7 per cent of the country’s net electricity generation in 2014.
Solar panels have been proven to operate more efficiently in lower temperatures because when solar panels are colder, they are able to better conduct electricity.
The reason that summer is still the best overall season for solar output is because the months of December, January and February tend to have more sunny days and fewer cloudy days, and have longer daylight hours.
Saving money with rooftop solar PV panels in Australia
If you are interested in using solar power to save money on your electricity bill, you need to consider the amount of sunshine you get over an entire year, rather than on any particular day.
When you feed solar power back into the electricity grid, your electricity company will look at what you’ve produced over a full year to calculate how much to pay you.
Even if you aren’t generating enough energy to feed back into the grid, harnessing solar energy to power your own home or business will still reduce your electricity bill.