Solar is a key component of Dominion's clean energy growth. We have three exciting generating facility projects, solar partnership and purchasing programs, and more than 700 customers with solar panels installed at their homes or businesses. These efforts support our philosophy to balance our generation portfolio with of all types of fuel sources: nuclear, clean coal, biomass, natural gas, hydro-power, wind and solar.
Our program is designed to increase the use of solar power in Virginia.
Installation owners can sell energy output and renewable energy credits to Dominion.
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» Learn about and donate to the Virginia Voluntary Solar Resource Development Fund.
Solar Photovoltaic (PV) and Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) systems (addressed in the next section) are the two main types of solar technology used in electric power generation.
Solar PV systems consist of interconnected PV cells that convert sunlight into electricity. Solar PV technology is found in both large-scale and distributed systems and can be implemented where unobstructed access to sunlight is available.
As of 2009, solar PV comprised only 0.1% percent of total electricity generating capacity in the U.S. However, solar PV technology has continued to evolve and is one of the most rapidly growing renewable energy sectors. Continuing enhancements in inverter technology are increasing the efficiency and output of solar PV systems.
Due to the decreasing costs of solar modules and increasing standardization of installation techniques, solar resources are becoming less expensive and more attractive options. For instance, solar PV capacity increased 51% from 2008 to 2009. Additionally, federal tax credits for solar, available through January 1, 2017, have helped make this resource more cost competitive.
However, installed costs can vary widely depending on system size, technology types, and site specific factors. A solar cell’s output depends on various factors, such as its design and materials, the intensity of the solar radiation hitting the cell, and the cell’s temperature. Due to its variable nature as a generating resource, solar PV generation is not dispatchable and contributes less to peak load and reserve requirements than conventional generation resources. Continuing advancements in storage technology may allow solar output to become a more reliable resource in the future.
Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) systems utilize mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto receivers to convert solar energy into thermal energy that in turn produces electricity. CSP systems are generally used in large scale solar plants and are mostly found in the southwestern area of the country where solar resource potential is the highest.