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Getting Through the Solar Jargon

Updated: Apr 14, 2022

Solar is a big thing in the world right now. There have been some great promises and ambitious commitments made at COP 26, and it seems that there really is in most cases global political will to go green.


There is a lot of industry jargon that’s been thrown around by lots of clever people, but we think that it’s important that solar energy be democratized so that more people start using it, and fewer people be intimidated by it. Solar truly is a “Flow Resource” (A natural resource that must be used where it occurs and replenishes itself, typically solar radiation, running water, tides, geothermal, landfill gas, biomass, and winds) ☀️🌊🍃🌍💨💧.


So here is a list of fancy words that we will explain simply. We want you, the energy consumer, to be less intimidated by solar so that you use more of it. Because when you use more of it, it will become cheaper and more efficient 💰. If it becomes cheaper and more efficient, more of us will use it and so we create a virtuous cycle that benefits everyone.




Solar Panel

The flat panel that captures solar radiation energy from the sun and converts it to Direct Current (DC) electricity.


Inverter

An electrical component that converts the DC electricity into Alternating Current(AC) electricity for popular consumption.


Off-Grid

A power system that takes the end-user away from any dependence on the traditional power supplier such as Eskom.


Roof Top

Solar panels that are installed on an existing roof, typically a roof with a large surface area such as a shopping centre.


Ground Mount

The solar panels are installed on the bracket on the ground, mainly in remote rural areas where there is a lot of unused ground.


Car Port Mount

Solar panels are installed on carports that are purpose-built to carry the panel and fit a standard vehicle underneath (seen in shopping centres and at Ford Production Facility in PTA).


Battery Back-Up

Batteries are used to store and supply solar energy when the sun does not shine


PV

Photovoltaic - meaning electricity from the energy from the sun. Could be used in a sentence as follows: “I am installing a PV system at my house so that I can escape load shedding”.

EPC

Engineering, Procurement and Construction - this is a team of professionals that would normally deliver a complete project solution to a customer. In the context of solar energy, this team of individuals are the ones that build and deliver a solar system for the customer. We use it in a sentence like this: “After our EPC partners have handed over the plant, we will start the PPA contract and your energy cost saving will kick in”.


PPA

Power Purchase Agreement - a long-term electricity supply agreement between two parties. In this context, it is where a company will finance the entire solar system (PV System) on behalf of the consumer in return for a monthly fee. In most cases around the world, a private company can strike a deal with the consumer and save them money on their monthly electricity bills by entering into a PPA. Radiation from the sun is for free and the cost to convert that radiation into electricity is mostly cheaper than the cost of electricity from the local utility supplier.


Grid-Tied

A power system that supports the local utility to supply power to the end point. This does not take you off the grid, it just reduces cost.



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