Solar - Terminologies And Abbreviations


What does BIPV abbreviate for?

Building Integrated PhotoVoltaic titles

What does RES / RPS abbreviate for?

Renewable Energy Standard / Renewable Portfolio Standard. This is regulation that mandate utility companies to source a certain amount of the energy they generate or sell from renewable sources such as wind and solar.

What does CSP abbreviate for?

Concentrating Solar Power are solar technologies that concentrators.

What does SHC abbreviate for?

Solar Heating & Cooling, aka solar-thermal.

What does DER abbreviate for?

Distributed Energy Resources

What does PURPA abbreviate for?

Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act. In 1978, seeking to open up the generation side of things to smaller and cleaner power plants, Congress passed the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, or PURPA. See:

When was PURPA passed by Congress?

1978 when the utilities were too busy trying to kill another competing industry. See

What are the purpose of PURPA?

  • It allowed independently-owned renewable generators to be connected to the grid. Suddenly, the grid was no longer the utility industry’s sole domain. PURPA said you could connect your solar PV system to the grid, but it didn’t spell out how much you would get paid for your electricity. PURPA laid the foundation for what came next—a policy that not only allowed you to connect to the grid, but that also set the price, a “tariff” in utility jargon, that you would be paid for the electricity you fed into the grid—feed-in tariffs, or FITs.

What does IOU abbreviate for?

Investor-Owned Utilities. These utility companies are companies that have their stocks traded on the stock exchanges.

What is RFP?


What is low-carbon QFs?


What does PUC abbreviate for?

Public Utility Commission, a state-level government position responsible for overseeing utility rate set by the utility companies.

What is the regulatory compact?

This is the set of regulatory that allows utility companies to charge reasonable rate with approval from PUC, and giving utility company guaranteed return-on-investment, where a utility company is given monopoly right over a geographical area…

What does T&D abbreviate for?

Transmission & Distributions. Basic this is the power lines.

What does UL abbreviate for?

Underwriters Laboratories

What is net metering?

Small wind energy systems can be connected to the electricity distribution system and are called grid-connected systems. A grid-connected wind turbine can reduce your consumption of utility-supplied electricity for lighting, appliances, and electric heat. If the turbine cannot deliver the amount of energy you need, the utility makes up the difference. When the wind system produces more electricity than the household requires, the excess is sent or sold to the utility. These arrangements with the utility company are typically called net metering or net billing. See

The concept of net metering programs is to allow the electric meters of customers with generating facilities to turn backwards when their generators are producing more energy than the customers’ demand.[1] Net metering allows customers to use their generation to offset their consumption over the entire billing period, not just instantaneously. This offset would enable customers with generating facilities to receive retail prices for more of the electricity they generate.

Net metering varies by state and by utility company, depending on whether net metering was legislated or directed by the Public Utility Commission. Net metering programs specify a way to handle the net excess generation (NEG) in terms of payment for electricity and/or length of time allowed for NEG credit. If the net metering requirements define NEG on a monthly basis, consumers can only receive credit for their excess that month. But if the net metering rules allow for annual NEG, the NEG credit can be carried for up to a year. Most of North America sees more wind in the winter than in the summer. For people using wind energy to displace a large load in the summer (like air conditioning or irrigation water pumping), having an annual NEG credit allows them to produce NEG in the winter and receive credits in the summer.


A crystal is a solid with molecular building blocks, such as atoms or ions, that have arranged themselves in an identically repeating pattern along all three spatial dimensions.

Energy Payback:

The amount of time required for a solar panel to generate the amount of energy it took to manufacture it. Modern PV panels have an energy payback of 1 to 3 years depending on where they're installed. Over a 30+ year life, a PV system will return 10 to 30 times the energy that went into making them.


The inverter electronically converts Direct Current (DC) power into Alternating Current (AC) power and is required for grid-connected solar power system

Micro Inverter:

Micro Inverter can be installed on each solar module. The cost is typically higher, but they provide certain advantage for very small or geometrically complex PV systems.

String Inverters:

String Inverters are the most common type of inverter for residential and small commercial PV systems.

Central inverters:

Central inverters are used for very large PV systems.


Sunlight varies by region. Insolation is a measure of solar radiation energy in a given region. It is usually expressed as the intensity of light energy per unit of land area. As a whole, the U.S., especially the sunny Southwest and Southeast, offer strong insolation. By comparison, Germany, the PV industry leader, get little better sun than Alaska.


In the metric system, a micron is one millionth of a meter, or one thousandth of a millimeter.


Silicon is a semi-conductor. Its atoms are organized into a crystalline structure. Monocrystalline refers to silicon that is pulled as a single, completely homogenous crystal. Monocrystalline PV cells are generally the most efficient and reliable available.


Also called multicrystalline. This refers to cast silicon where several crystals form in a mold. This is less expensive than single crystals, but resulting cells generally have lower efficiency due to internal resistance along the grain boundaries. Polycrystalline cells can be recognized by a visible grain, a "metal flake effect".

Silicon carbine:

Silicon carbine (SiC), silicon bonded with carbon, is another member of the silicon family of materials used in the PV industry. It is a common abrasive in many industries, used in everything from grinding to sandblasting. Crushed SiC is mixed into a water slurry and applied to saw wires. Silicon carbine, not wire, actually does the cutting.


A raw silicon disc, used as the starting point for manufacturing a solar cell.

What does PCU abbreviate for?

Power Conditioning Unit. It is the inverter.

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