If you want to learn more about how solar photovoltaic (PV) panels convert sunlight into electricity, this is a good place to start!
Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels are composed of monocrystalline solar cells confined between glass with a metal frame. The silicon, glass, and metal framing used in the manufacture of solar panels are non-toxic. The interior components of a PV solar panel consist of solidified materials that won't ever leak liquid or gaseous materials into their surroundings, causing no harm to humans nor the environment.
Photovoltaics is a technology used to convert sunlight to electricity. Solar PV panels will be used and designed to achieve optimal energy production on the Elk Creek Solar Project. A number of solar cells electrically connected to each other and mounted in a support structure or frame is called a photovoltaic (PV) module. Multiple modules can be wired together to form an array. Photovoltaic modules and arrays produce direct-current (DC) electricity.
Inverters convert the direct current (DC) electricity from the solar panel into alternating current (AC) electricity, so it can be added to the utility grid system.
The electricity generated will be collected on-site using underground cables to the project substation. The project substation will aggregate and feed the electricity to the grid and includes a transformer that converts – or “steps up” – the electricity to the same voltage carried by the grid transmission lines.
Elk Creek Solar will maintain and protect the leased land during the life of the Project, after which it will revert to the owner’s control and be available again for traditional farming after full decommissioning of the site. Solar development and traditional agricultural can co-exist side-by-side, and increasingly are found together. Responsible solar development provides benefits to both agriculture and local ecosystems by improving soil health over time, increasing biodiversity, retaining water and topsoil with deep-rooted vegetation, and nurturing native pollinators which support local food production.
Wisconsin farmers produce world-class products. As stewards of the land, they understand the need to balance productivity and environmental protection. Elk Creek Solar will be built primarily on agricultural land, and while the product produced is not traditionally agricultural, it generates a necessary, renewable product, and continues the tradition of Wisconsin’s agricultural leadership. Clean solar energy is produced without air or water pollution and provides a revenue stream for farmers, their families, and the local community. At the end of the Project’s economic life, the land will be once again available for traditional agriculture.
Although some worry about the use of agricultural land for solar energy generation, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that it would take only 3.5% of U.S. cropland to meet 100% of the energy demand via solar installations. They anticipate actually needing only 1-2% of agricultural land in combination with other energy sources.