Solar panels can provide incredible value even in cloudy climates. The most famous international example of this is Germany. While getting about as much sun each year as Alaska does, Germany is currently 2nd in world for solar as an energy source. In 2015, more than 1.5 million solar installations generated about 75% of Germany’s net electricity consumption.
The United Kingdom recently accomplished an inspiring solar milestone: a six-month period wherein solar panels produced more electricity than the country’s coal-fired power plants.
The United states continues to grow and currently ranks 4th in the world. Denver, Colorado is ranked 52 of the greenest cities in America. With an energy source ranking of 25 and Lifestyle ranking of 13 – yet our environment ranking is 95. This could be greatly improved with the use of solar power.
How does it work when it’s cloudy?!
Even when it’s cloudy or overcast, some usable sunlight is getting through. Which some of you may know while skiing or snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains here in Colorado and end up with that sweet goggle tan! The most powerful fuel for solar panels is “direct sunlight” which is fueled by a direct line of light from the sun. Solar panels also use “diffuse sunlight,” which is sunlight that has collided with other things in the sky (clouds, haze, and dust) as a result it is broadly dispersed before reaching your roof. There’s also “reflected sunlight,” which is sunlight that has ricocheted off buildings or the ground before hitting your roof. Although diffused sunlight is less pungent than direct, it still gets converted to electricity. For example, on a cloudy day with diffused sunlight a solar panel might produce 20% of its maximum capacity, this isn’t ideal, but not insignificant either, and is important to the overall economics of a solar power system.
It’s important to look at the solar panels’ total annual output, which can be large regardless of extended cloudy periods. A solar rooftop’s success is based on how much it reduces your overall use of costly grid electricity. Most cloudy areas in the U.S get more than enough sunlight (direct, diffuse, and reflected) to produce more than a thousand dollars worth of electricity each year, still preventing carbon pollution. Solar panels also use a battery that stores excess power during sunny periods, you can tap into this during times when your solar panels aren’t able to conduct enough power.
In some cases, a cloudier climate can be correlated with more solar power production. Solar panels operate more efficiently in cooler conditions due to the nature of semiconductor materials. This has proven true in cities like San Francisco and Sacramento. Even cities experiencing cloudy and partly cloudy conditions more than 260 days per year, the typical solar rooftop still receives enough total sunlight to produce well over $1,000 worth of electricity each year!
Get in touch with use to find out how much electricity your rooftop can produce, there is a good chance you’ll be pleasantly surprised.