Solar FAQ

 

Is there a problem with storage? Can you store solar energy?

Electrical energy is expensive to store, and storage is generally not included in CSE’s solar projects. However, a key benefit of solar, especially here in the Southeast, is that solar projects generate the most electricity on sunny days, which are generally the time that electrical demand peaks (because of air conditioning use.) Therefore, installing more solar puts extra electricity onto the electric grid at the time it is needed most.

How long does it take a solar panel to return the energy that was used to create it?

The energy payback period for solar photovoltaic panels is now between 2-3 years. You can download a calculation done by the US department of energy here.

Note: Carolina Solar Energy uses crystalline silicon module technology

If you install solar panels on the ground, can the land be used for anything else?

Yes. On many of Carolina Solar Energy’s solar farms, we contract with local farmers who pasture sheep during the spring, summer and fall when the grass is growing. The sheep control the grass, so that it does not grow up and shade the solar panels. We attach a gutter to the bottom of some of the rows of the solar panels, and collect rainwater for the sheep to drink. We do not use goats or cows because they might eat the electric wires or jump up on or rub against the solar panels.

What happens at the end of the solar farm life?

The solar panels are manufactured and warranted to generate electric power for at least 20-25 years, and we anticipate that the solar farms installed now may remain in the field generating power for 30 years or more. At the end of the useful life of the solar panels, the entire system can be removed and recycled. The component metals of the solar system, steel, aluminum and copper can be recycled, and their value is higher than the cost of removing the system. Carolina Solar Energy installs panels on driven metal pilings rather than concrete, so that at the end of the solar farm’s useful life, the solar panels and pilings can be removed with little trouble and the land left clean and looking like before the solar farm was installed.

What type of solar technology does CSE use?

CSE uses modules made of crystalline silicon. The crystals are “grown” from a solution made of pure molten sand. One of the world’s purest silicone mines is in western North Carolina near Asheville.