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Solar Facts

Solar Basics

Sun shining on solar panel

What is solar power?

Solar power is a result of energy from the sun being converted into heat and electricity. Sunlight can be captured using photovoltaic (PV) cells, which convert the sun’s energy into electricity.

How do solar panels work?

Solar energy is produced when sunlight hits a solar photovoltaic module (solar panel or PV panel) and causes electric current to flow. The current produced from the PV panels is controlled and regulated by an inverter, which converts direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC), needed for use by household appliances.

Individual PV cells can be grouped into panels and arrays of panels that can be used in a variety of way, ranging from single small cells that charge calculator and watch batteries, to systems that power single homes, to large power plants covering many acres.

What are the benefits of solar energy?

Solar energy systems do not produce air pollutants or carbon dioxide. Solar energy systems have minimal impact on the environment.

What are the limitations of solar energy?

The amount of sunlight that arrives at the earth’s surface is not constant. The amount of sunlight varies depending on location, time of day, time of year and weather conditions.


Community Solar

Solar panels in the CHEC Community Solar garden in Hatteras under bright blue sky

Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative (CHEC) offers a form of cooperative solar called community solar.  CHEC operates, and maintains a 50kW community solar garden that has 180 panels.  The project is located at milepost 71 on Hwy 12 in Hatteras Village.

Cooperative members can choose to buy into the system for a one-time payment.  In return, participating members receive a monthly credit back on their electric bills, based on the average electricity produced by the solar garden. The project has a life expectancy of 20 years.

Why community solar?

CHEC values clean, renewable energy and as is constantly looking for ways to take a balanced approach towards energy production and generation.  Solar energy is one of the cleanest and most affordable renewable energy sources available.  By grouping solar panels together, costs can be shared and power output can be maximized.

Community solar is an attractive options for CHEC members who are interested in solar but do not want to make a significant financial investment or do not want to penetrate their roof with their own panels, in our unique coastal environment.

CHEC partnered with the North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation, the National Renewable Cooperative Organization, and Hannah Solar to bring community solar to Hatteras Island. 

More information on Community Solar.



  1. Energy Information Administration;


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