The solar power industry is booming, with companies building and operating more than 60,000 solar power plants, according to industry data.
It’s also one of the fastest growing segments of the renewable energy sector, according the International Energy Agency.
A lot of it is done at home, though, with many people still relying on their existing power grids.
Here are the key points to knowing about the solar power sector.
It starts with the panels What is a solar panel?
A solar panel is an array of photovoltaic panels that capture sunlight to power a home.
The panels are manufactured by SunPower and can range in size from 10 to more than 20 meters.
Solar panels typically produce between 200 watts and 500 watts of energy per watt of electricity output.
This figure includes both the solar panels themselves, which generate electricity, as well as the associated inverters that connect the panels to a grid.
The inverter connects the panels directly to a solar installation, which can generate electricity for a home, a business or even the entire city.
A large percentage of solar installations in the U.S. are concentrated in urban areas, according a study from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), but it’s not a bad thing.
“The main thing is to have the right technology, the right customer base, the best installation site and the right management systems,” says Jeff Mauer, director of the Energy Solutions Lab at MIT’s Media Lab.
Most panels, he says, “don’t have a lot of efficiency and cost,” so “you have to make sure you have a good customer base.”
A solar installation costs about $20,000 to $100,000 What does it cost to install a solar system?
The cost of installing a solar energy system can range from $20 to $10,000 per watt, depending on the size of the panel, the type of grid connection and the number of panels.
A standard solar panel installation can be up to 50 percent more expensive than a traditional rooftop solar installation because of the extra cost of the inverter and inverter modules, according of the International Association of Home Builders.
A typical panel cost $1,000, but a new, upgraded solar system costs between $3,000 and $6,000.
A home solar power installation can cost between $2,000-$5,000 depending on what type of solar system you have.
A panel on a rooftop solar system may cost more than the average U.N. dollar, according Mauer.
A small solar power company can sell panels to large solar companies How does a solar company work?
Solar companies are often run by individual individuals or companies, or by partnerships.
A single solar company may not have as many employees as a big solar company, so it can be hard to scale up and down.
“It’s very challenging to get a solar plant up and running quickly, because it’s a very small company,” says David Schmitt, chief executive officer of SolarCity, a solar installer.
In most cases, solar companies rely on “gigafactory” factories where large numbers of workers are assembled at a facility that will be fully automated.
That factory can then assemble panels for solar plants that require thousands of panels at one time.
How much electricity can you generate from a solar project?
The U.K. has a solar incentive program that provides incentives for solar installations of up to $15,000 that generate enough electricity to meet demand.
A U.D. Energy study estimated that about 10,000 U.s. solar projects could generate more than 5,000 megawatts of power by 2021.
That’s enough electricity for the entire U. S. population of 3.2 million, or enough to power more than 200,000 homes.
A smaller solar power project could be more profitable, depending how many panels are installed and how much energy is produced.
Solar power can be used to generate electricity from natural gas or nuclear energy What’s a natural gas plant?
A natural gas power plant, or NPS, is a large-scale natural gas storage facility that uses gas as a fuel to power turbines and pumps.
There are two types of natural gas plants: pumped hydroelectric and hydropower.
Pumped hydroelectric plants are more expensive to build, but the infrastructure can be upgraded to produce more power, according, Mauer of MIT Media Lab, because of higher capacity and higher efficiency of the equipment.
Hydropower plants are easier to build and operate, but they typically require more money and involve less space.
They produce more electricity than pumped hydro.
Natural gas can be generated from any source, including nuclear, and the U