Glossary

Below is a list of general terminology used in the Utility Solar Database.

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CONCENTRATING PHOTOVOLTAICS (CPV)

PV can be magnified using mirrors or lenses in low- or high-concentrations, known as concentrating photovoltaic technology (CPV).

CONCENTRATING SOLAR POWER TECHNOLOGY (CSP)

This is a solar technology that utilizes mirrors or lenses to concentrate sunlight on a point or line and generate high-temperature heat, which is captured to generate electricity in a thermodynamic process.

DECOUPLING

Revenue decoupling separates electricity sales from revenues so that conservation/energy efficiency is not discouraged.

FEED IN TARIFF (FIT)

A Feed-in Tariff (FIT) is a financing scheme utilities can adopt to encourage investment in solar energy by offering a fixed energy rate to purchase solar electricity from a solar power producer over a long-term contract (15-25 years).

INTERCONNECTION STANDARDS

Interconnection standards specify the technical, legal and procedural requirements that customers and utilities must abide by when a customer wishes to connect a solar energy system (or other customer-sited system) to the grid. Comprehensive interconnection standards are developed by state public utility commissions, which are authorized (or required) by state legislatures to do so.

KILOWATT-HOURS (KWH)

Kilowatt hours (kWh) are a measure of amount of electric output from a facility, rather than its nameplate capacity, measured in MW.

MEGAWATTS (MW)

Megawatts (MW) are a measure of the nameplate generating capacity of a solar energy system. 1 MW = 1,000 kW or 1,000,000 W.

NET METERING

Net metering allows electric customers who generate their own electricity using solar energy (or other forms of renewable energy) to bank excess electricity on the grid, usually in the form of kilowatt-hour (kWh) credits. These credits are used to offset electricity consumed by the customer at a different time during the same billing period. In effect, the customer uses excess generation credits to offset electricity that the customer otherwise would have to purchase at the utility's full retail rate.

PHOTOVOLTAIC TECHNOLOGY (PV)

Photovoltaic Technology (PV) utilizes a photosensitive material to generate electricity directly from sunlight.

RENEWABLE PORTFOLIO STANDARD (RPS)

Renewable portfolio standards (RPS) are state-mandated energy policies that require utilities to use renewable energy or renewable energy credits (RECs) to account for a certain percentage of their retail electricity sales or a certain amount of generating capacity.

SOLAR RENEWABLE ENERGY CREDIT (SREC)

Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs): The environmental benefits and renewable attributes resulting from not generating the same electricity from a conventional gas or coal-fired power plant may be bundled as SRECs and sold separately from the electricity in some markets. The sale of SRECs is intended to promote the growth of distributed solar by shortening the time it takes to earn a return on the investment. 1 SREC = 1,000 kWh of solar electricity = 1 MWh of solar electricity.

SOLAR WATER HEATING (SWH)

Solar water heating systems use several components, including storage tanks and solar collectors, to generate hot water for domestic and commercial use.

STANDBY CHARGES

Standby charges have been implemented by some utilities, developing as a way to offset what utilities see as a relative underpayment, by solar customers, of the fixed costs that a utility has to absorb.

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