It’s long been thought that pointing solar panels south (for locations in the Northern Hemisphere) will lead to best performance and energy output, but it turns out that pointing them west is more effective because peak demand on the power grid is in the afternoon and evening. Maximizing solar power during that period is more useful at reducing the need for sources of energy that pollute.
Experts at the Pecan Street Research Institute have found that the key to solar panel efficacy is not only how much electricity is produced but also when it is produced. West-facing solar panels produce 49% more electricity during peak demand time than their south-facing counterparts.
In Texas, as in most places in the US, peak demand times are 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., which also corresponds with the heat of the day. Peak demand time happens when people arrive home from work and begin turning on lights, using appliances, etc. This is the time of day power grids are most likely to become overloaded and when electricity is most expensive.
If clean electricity is produced from correctly-facing solar panels that are more effective, this will reduce the stress on the grid. Experts stress that incentives for solar panels should be aligned so that energy production follows peak demand – something that is not happening right now.