What is being monitored? What does it mean?  Browse our guide to solar-related terminology or find definitions of the data parameters


Alternating Current (AC)

…is electrical current that alternates the direction of its flow in cycles. The grid supplies AC electricity at a frequency of 50 Hz in all Australian states which means that the peak value of the sine wave is reached 50 times a second.

Amorphous Silicon

…is a thin film photovoltaic material based on silicon with no crystal structure. Silicon, doped with other particles, is applied in a thin layer to the substrate of the PV module. Amorphous silicon has a lower efficiency than crystalline silicon, but it requires less silicon material and is cheaper to process so can provide a cost advantage.


An assembly of electrically connected PV modules that combines their output

Cadmium Telluride (CdTe)

An alternative photovoltaic material (to silicon) which is used in some thin film PV modules


A system used to concentrate sunlight onto the surface of a PV module to increase its electrical output

Conversion Efficiency

Ratio of the electric power produced by a PV module to the power of the sunlight reaching its surface, noted as a percentage (%)

Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS)

An alternative photovoltaic material (to silicon) which is used in some thin film PV modules

Crystalline Silicon

…refers to silicon in its crystalline form, which can be grown in mono- or polycrystalline configurations to make solar PV cells. Silicon crystals are grown and sawn into wafers to construct these cells. Crystalline silicon has a more rigid atomic structure than amorphous (non-crystalline) silicon, which allows electrical current to flow more easily. Crystalline silicon PV modules make up the overwhelming bulk of modules on the PV market. 


The amount of electricity flowing through an electrical circuit, measured in Amperes [Amps] [A]

Diffuse irradiance

Light scattered by particles in the atmosphere, which hits the surface of an array at an angle other than 90 degrees, generally expressed in Watts per quare metre (W/m2)

Direct Current (DC)

…is electricity that flows continuously in one direction; this is the type of electricity generated by PV modules. To supply DC electricity to the grid, or to use it with standard appliances, an inverter must be used to convert this DC to AC. AC electricity can also be converted into DC by using a rectifier.

Direct normal irradiance (DNI)

Light that hits the surface of the array on an angle close to 90 degrees (normal), generally expressed in Watts per square metre (W/m2)

Dual-axis tracking

…refers to a tracking system that can rotate about two axes. Dual-axis tracking can align a PV array to the sun’s height in the sky (tilt angle) as well as the sun’s east-to-west bearing (azimuth angle).

Electrical grid

An electrical distribution and/or transmission system made up of interconnected supply sources (generators) and demand points (loads) that supplies electrical energy to a town or other area


…is the ability to do work. PV modules are able to convert the energy in sunlight to electrical energy, generally expressed in watt hours (Wh) or kilowatt hours (kWh)

Grid-Connect Inverter

…is a type of inverter designed to feed electricity to the grid, generally with in-built safeguards to guarantee normal operation of the grid. Its primary role is to convert the DC power generated by the PV system into AC power that can be transmitted and distributed on the grid.

Grid-Connected PV System

A PV system that contributes generated electricity to the grid via a grid-connect inverter


…describes a mechanical system based on the expansion and contraction of enclosed gasses or liquids. Passive hydraulic trackers are designed to use differences in heat in different areas to shift an array.


…is a measure of solar energy per unit area, generally expressed in Wh/m2 or kWh/m2. When cited as the solar resource for a given location, this can be expressed in peak sun hours per day, defined as an equivalent number of hours of 1 kWh/m2 sunlight encountered.


A device for converting DC electricity into AC electricity, often also having the ability to control other functions in a grid-connected or a standalone power system


A measure of solar power per unit area, generally expressed in W/m2 or kW/m2

Kilowatt [kW]

A unit of electrical power equal to 1,000 W which can be calculated as the product of voltage and current

Kilowatt-hour [kWh]

A unit of electrical energy equal to 1,000 Wh, representing the power delivered over a period of time, e.g. 5 kWh = 1 kW acting over 5 hours (or 5 kW acting over 1 hour, etc.)


In photovoltaics, a piece of equipment that converts sunlight to electricity – also known as a ‘solar panel’


With respect to silicon, a type of photovoltaic material cut from silicon blocks composed of a single, pure silicon crystal, known for high conversion efficiencies but generally more expensive to manufacture


Alignment of an array with respect to north – also known as ‘azimuth’

Parallel Connection

… refers to the connection of electrical elements along two or more parallel paths (i.e. positive terminals to positive terminals and negative terminals to negative terminals) in an electrical circuit. PV modules connected in parallel will sum their currents, while voltage will stay the same.

Passive Tracking

Tracking that does not consume electrical energy, e.g. a hydraulic tracker which moves in response to temperature changes in different parts of a fluid 

Peak Demand

Maximum power demand from a load source, often measured in kW – also known as ‘peak load’

Peak Sun Hours

A measure of solar energy received, defined as the equivalent number of hours experiencing 1 kWh/m2 insolation, e.g. if a location receives 7 kWh/m2 over the course of a day, this would be expressed as 7 peak sun hours


A particle of light

Photovoltaic (PV) Cell

…is a small piece of photovoltaic material that generates electricity from light. A PV module is made up of an assembly of electrically connected photovoltaic cells.

Photovoltaic (PV) Material

Material that generates an internal electrical current in response to light, by a phenomenon known as the photovoltaic effect

Photovoltaic (PV) module

A piece of equipment that uses the photovoltaic effect – converting sunlight into electricity – made up of an assembly of electrically connected photovoltaic cells – also known as ‘solar panel’

Polycrystalline (or Multicrystalline)

…with respect to silicon, refers to a type of photovoltaic material cut from silicon blocks composed of multiple silicon crystals of varying size and orientation (the different crystals that make up polycrystalline cells can be seen on the surface of the cell as a mosaic-like pattern). These are slightly less efficient than monocrystalline cells but less costly to manufacture. 


Photovoltaic, referring to light (‘photo’) and electricity (‘voltaic’)

Series Connection

…refers to the connection of electrical elements along a single continuous path (i.e. positive terminals to negative terminals) in an electrical circuit. PV modules connected in series will sum their voltages, while current will stay the same.

Single-Axis Tracking

…refers to a tracking system that rotates about one axis. It allows a PV array to follow the sun from east to west throughout the day.

Solar panel

A piece of equipment that uses the photovoltaic effect converting sunlight into electricity, made up of an assembly of electrically connected photovoltaic cells – also known as ‘PV module’

Solar Resource

The availability of solar energy at any particular location, generally quantified in terms of insolation

Stand alone

Not connected to a grid, an example being an electrical generator that serves a load without being part of the main supply grid


A number of PV modules electrically connected in series

Thin Film

A type of solar technology constructed from a thin layer of photovoltaic material on the surface of a substrate such as glass (also refers to the layer itself)

Tilt Angle

The angle at which a PV module is mounted with respect to the horizontal plane

Tracking Array

An array that moves automatically to orient its PV modules towards the sun and maximise solar exposure

Upgraded metallurgical-grade silicon

A photovoltaic material made of silicon that is three orders of magnitude less pure than the polysilicon used to make polycrystalline solar cells

Voltage (V)

A measure of the electrical force driving a current, quantified by the unit Volts [V]

Watt (W)

The standard unit of electrical power, a product of voltage [V] and current [A]

Data Parameters

For solar generation data from the DKASC, Alice Springs and Yulara Solar System
For resource data from the NT Solar Resource meteorological stations
For historical resource data from the DKASC, Alice Springs
For resource data from the Yulara Solar System