Active Tracking - A tracking array driven by a motor to orient a solar array towards the sun.
Alternating Current (AC) - Electrical current that alternates the direction of its flow in cycles. The grid supplies AC electricity at a frequency of 50Hz in all Australian states which means that the peak value of the sine wave is reached 50 times a second.
Amorphous Silicon - Thin-film,photovoltaic material based on silicon. Silicon, doped with other particles, is applied in a thin layer to the substrate of a solar panel. Amorphous silicon has a lower efficiency than crystallline silicon, but less material is consumed giving a cost advantage.
Array - an assembly of electrically connected solar panels that supplies the panels’ combined output.
Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) - An alternative photovoltaic material to silicon, used to make thin-film panels.
Concentrator - A system used to concentrate sunlight onto the surface of a solar panel to increase its electrical output.
Conversion Efficiency - The ratio of the electric power produced by a solar panel to the power of the sunlight incident on the device.
Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS) - An alternative photovoltaic material to silicon, used to make thin-film panels.
Crystalline Silicon - Mono- or poly- crystalline silicon. Silicon crystals are grown and sawn into wafers to construct solar cells. Cystalline silicon has a more rigid atomic structure than amorphous silicon, which allows electrical current to flow more easily.
Current - The amount of electricity flowing through an electrical circuit. This is measured in Amps.
Diffuse Insolation - scattered light that hits the surface of the array at an angle.
Direct Current (DC) - This electricity flows constantly in one direction - this is the type of electricity generated by solar panels. To import DC electricity to the grid, or to use it with standard appliances, an inverter converts this to AC. AC electricity can also be converted into DC by using a rectifier.
Direct Insolation - Light that hits the surface of the array on an angle close to normal.
Dual-Axes Tracking - A tracking system that is able to rotate about two axes. Dual axes tracking can align to the sun’s height in the sky, and the sun’s position away from north.
Electrical grid - An electrical transmission system that supplies electrical energy to a town, or a wider area.
Energy - The ability to do work. Solar panels are able to convert the energy in sunlight to electrical energy.
Grid-Connected System - A photovoltaic array that contributes generated electricity to the grid via a grid-connect inverter.
Grid-Connect Inverter - A type of inverter designed to feed electricity to the grid with inbuilt safeguards to guarantee normal operation of the grid.
Hydraulics - a mechanical system based on the expansion and contraction of enclosed gasses. Passive hydraulic trackers use differences in heat in different areas to shift an array.
Insolation - Sunlight energy expressed in kWh/m2. When cited as the solar resource for a given location, this can be expressed in peak sun hours per day.
Inverter - A device for converting DC electricity into AC electricity. Inverters can also control other functions in a grid connected or a stand-alone power system.
Irradiance (W/m2) - Energy in sunlight to be received by an area at a given point of time. Usually expressed in kilowatts per square metre.
Kilowatt (kW) - A measure of electrical power. One Kilowatt equals 1000 Watts. It is the product of voltage and current.
Kilowatt-Hour (kWh) - A measure of electrical energy, representing the power delivered over a period of time. Five kilowatt hours equals 1 kW acting over 5 hours, or 5 kilowatts acting over one hour.
Monocrystalline - A photovoltaic material cut from silicon blocks composed of a single, pure silicon crystal.
Module - A solar panel.
Orientation - Alignment of an array with respect to north.
Passive Tracking - Tracking that does not consume electrical energy - eg a hydraulic tracker.
Parallel Connection - Connecting positive terminals to positive terminals in an electrical circuit. Solar panels connected in parallel will sum their currents, while voltage will stay the same.
Peak Demand/Load - The maximum power demand from a given load.
Peak Sun Hours - The sunlight energy received expressed as the equivalent number of hours of 1kW/m2 irradiance. If a location receives 7 kWh/m2 over the course of a day, this would be expressed as 7 peak sun hours.
Photon - A particle of light.
Photovoltaic (PV) Cell - A section of photovoltaic material that generates electricity from light. A solar panel is made up of an assembly of electrically connected photovoltaic cells.
Photovoltaic (PV) Material - Material that generates an internal electrical current in reaction to light.
Photovoltaic (PV) Panel- a solar panel.
Polycrystalline (or Multicrystalline) - A photovoltaic material cut from silicon blocks composed of multiple silicon crystals of varying size and orientation. The different crystals that make up polycrystalline cells can be seen on surface of the cells as a mosaic-like pattern.
Series Connection - Connecting positive terminals to negative terminals in an electrical circuit. Solar panels connected in series will sum their voltages, while current will stay the same.
Single-Axis Tracking - A tracking system that rotates about one axis to follow the sun from east to west.
Solar Resource - A location’s exposure to sunlight energy.
Solar panel - a device to generate electricity from sunlight, constructed of electrically connected cells of photovoltaic material.
Stand alone - An electrical generator that serves a load without being connected to a grid.
String - a number of panels connected in series.
Thin Film - Solar technologies constructed from a thin layer of photovoltaic material.
Tilt Angle - The angle at which a panel is rotated with respect to horizontal.
Tracking Array - An array that moves to orient the panels towards the sun and maximise solar exposure.
Upgraded metallurgical-grade silicon - A photovoltaic material made of silicon that is three orders of magnitude less pure than the polysilicon used to make polycrystalline solar cells.
Voltage (V) - The electrical force driving a current, measured in volts.
Watt (W) - A measure of electrical power. It is the product of voltage and current.