Solar Energy Basics

Energy from the sun has been harnesses for thousands of years.  We use this energy in three main ways and when talking about solar energy it is important to distinguish between these three types:

Photovoltaics (PV)
Photovoltaic solar cells, which directly convert sunlight into electricity, are made of semiconducting materials. The simplest cells power watches and calculators and the like, while more complex systems can light houses and provide power to the electric grid.

Solar Hot Water and Space Heating and Cooling
Solar hot water heaters use the sun to heat either water or a heat-transfer fluid in collectors. A typical system will reduce the need for conventional water heating by about two-thirds. High-temperature solar water heaters can provide energy-efficient hot water and hot water heat for large commercial and industrial facilities.  GEO offers a Solar Thermal Rebate Program for commercial installations.

Passive Solar Heating, Cooling and Daylighting
Buildings designed for passive solar and daylighting incorporate design features such as large south-facing windows and building materials that absorb and slowly release the sun’s heat. No mechanical means are employed in passive solar heating. Incorporating passive solar designs can reduce heating bills as much as 50 percent. Passive solar designs can also include natural ventilation for cooling.

Solar Energy Resources

What Solar Electric Incentives Are Available in Ohio?

DSIRE: “The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency” is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility and federal incentives.  Review the new Federal ‘Business Energy Tax Credit’ and ‘Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit’ that was included as part of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of October 2008.

PVWAtts Calculator: NREL’s (National Renewable Energy Lab) PVWatts calculator estimates the energy production and cost of energy of grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) energy systems throughout the world. It allows homeowners, small building owners, installers and manufacturers to easily develop estimates of the performance of potential PV installations.

GEO Solar Energy Fact Sheet

Ohio Consumer’s Guide to Buying a Solar Electric System

List of Ohio Renewable Energy Installers