Montana Audubon

Montana Audubon works at the local, state and national policy levels to protect our natural heritage.

Solar Energy

Powered by the sun

One of the most innovative segments of the renewable market is solar energy. Free and abundant sunlight can integrate seamlessly into Montana’s energy economy. Learn how each of us can contribute to a clean energy future. Learn more about energy that is naturally abundant and increasingly inexpensive.

How solar works:

Solar energy can be captured to generate both electricity and heat.

Electricity

  • Photovoltaic (PV) cells harness sunlight and convert it to electricity using the photovoltaic effect. Typically made from silicon and other semiconducting materials, PV cells produce direct current (DC) electricity when struck by the sun’s rays. This DC energy is then transformed into alternating current (AC) energy using an inverter.
  • In a PV system, energy output and economic efficiency are dependent upon a number of factors, including system orientation, tilt angle, and technological sophistication. Additionally, sunlight exposure (or solar irradiance) at the system’s geographical location also influences energy output. On average, Montana receives about 4 to 5 hours of peak sunlight per day.

Heat

  • Solar energy can be used to heat water in what are sometimes called “solar domestic hot water systems.” These technologies typically include a series of linked heat-absorbing panels and storage tanks.

Benefits of Solar Energy:

Four to five hours of peak sunlight doesn’t feel like much to those living under the cloudy winter skies of Montana. Nevertheless, many Montanans have implemented and realized the benefits of their own rooftop solar systems.

Personal Benefits

  • Rooftop systems are user-friendly and low maintenance; they often come with a power production warranty of up to 25 years.
  • Systems can link to your home computer or application device so you can easily keep track your energy flow.
  • Your business or home’s resale value will increase with the installation of solar panels. In today’s greening world, more and more buyers view solar systems as value-added upgrades.
  • Solar systems pay for themselves over time. When you create your own energy, both your dependence on the electrical-grid and your home’s energy-operating costs decrease. Some net-metering policies even provide retail credit for extra electricity generated from home systems.

Global Benefits

  • Sunlight is a clean and 100% emission-free energy source. Unlike uranium and fossil fuels, sunlight is abundant and found everywhere (even during Montana’s grayest winters). A step toward solar energy is a step in support of clean energy.
  • Rooftop solar is wildlife friendly. These systems contain no moving parts and do not impact Montana’s pristine habitats. They are unobtrusive and silent producers of
    electricity.

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