The sun bathes the earth in a steady, enormous flow of radiant energy, providing a continuous supply of energy, making it the earth's most abundant source of renewable energy. There are two different approaches to harnessing energy from the sun: photovoltaic (PV) and solar-thermal technologies. ACE NY focuses on clean electricity, and thus on PV.
In New York, the solar industry has visibly grown in recent years, in large part due to state incentive policies that ACE NY has advocated for. The majority of the operating solar projects are Distributed Solar – small projects located where the energy is used, like rooftop solar, and are supported by NY-Sun incentive payments, as well as net metering policies that allow homeowners and small businesses to get credits on their bills when producing more electricity than they are using.
Photovoltaics, rely on chemical reactions to generate electricity. PV cells are small, semiconductors manufactured in thin film layers from silicon and other conductive materials. When sunlight strikes a PV cell, chemical reactions release electrons, generating electric current. The small current from individual PV cells, which are installed in modules, can power individual homes and businesses (referred to as Distributed Solar) or can be plugged into the bulk electricity grid (referred to as Grid-Scale Solar).