Solar Panel Walkway

Solar Energy

Technologies to use solar energy include using the sun's heat to produce electricity, passive solar heating and daylighting, producing electricity directly from sunlight and heating water with solar energy.

Frequently asked questions:

Will it work in West Virginia?

Available solar energy is comparable in West Virginia to neighboring states. Below are available kilowatt hours/square meter/day for comparable cities. (From Solar Radiation Data Manual for Flat-Plate and Concentrating Collectors at National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Renewable Resource Data Center)

Akron: 4.1
Columbus: 4.2
Cleveland: 4.1
New York City: 4.6
Rochester: 4.1
Charleston(WV): 4.4

(Data are for non-tracking flat panels set at the latitude of the site)

How much does a photovoltaic system cost?

A PV system for an efficient home using 5-15 kWh/day ranges from $10,000 to $30,000, according to the New Mexico Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy.

What can the sun's energy be used for?

Solar energy, thermal and photovoltaic, can be used on industrial, commercial and residential buildings that have available south-facing areas.

Thermal Solar

  • Domestic hot water can be directly competitive with gas-fired or electric hot water heating. Systems that utilize the sun with fossil fuel or electric power as a backup can pay for themselves in relatively short periods of time.
  • Passive solar can be used to complement heating systems.
  • Concentrating solar power (CSP) plants use the concentrated rays of the sun to heat a fluid to steam-generating temperatures, driving a steam turbine electric generator.

Photovoltaic Solar

  • A dramatic growth globally is occurring in the manufacture, sale and installation of photovoltaic systems. Now that West Virginia has adopted net metering, homeowners and building owners alike can partner with the electric utilities and bring energy diversity to West Virginia.
  • For technical and general information on net metering in West Virginia, contact the West Virginia Public Service Commission: James Ellars at 304-340-0436 or
  • Contact your electric utility for specific information on net metering in your area.

Where can I get more information?

Below are some good sites to visit:

American Solar Energy Society
Solar Energy Industries Association

The U.S. Department of Energy and National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Open PV Mapping Project, which will provide a Web-based resource for users to easily understand the current status and past progress of the PV industry from the data that show current and recent trends of the PV market. Additionally, users may add their own PV installation data, browse PV data entered by others, and view statistics.

Are there currently any incentives or grants to assist homeowners with solar or photovoltaic installation costs?

No grants are available at this time although the federal government also offers a tax credit, available at 30 percent of the cost, with no upper limit through 2016 (for existing homes & new construction) for:

  • Geothermal heat pumps
  • Solar panels
  • Solar water heaters
  • Small wind energy systems
  • Fuel cells

For more information, visit the following Web site:

Tax Incentives Assistance Project

Contact: The West Virginia Division of Energy at (800) 982-3386 or (304) 558-2234.

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Solar Powered Water Heater
House with Solar Panels through Sunflowers