Panneaux solaires dans le Nord : un investissement rentable

How do solar panels work?

Let's start by clarifying one thing: what is the difference between a solar panel and a photovoltaic panel? 

Solar panels convert the energy of the sun into heat (called solar thermal energy). Photovoltaic panels convert sunlight into electricity (called photovoltaic solar energy). 

A photovoltaic solar panel is composed of photovoltaic cells that capture the photons emitted by the sun's rays.  

This system allows the harvested energy to be converted into direct current. And it is the silicon (a semiconducting material) used to build these panels that allows the sun's rays to be converted into current. 

There are two types of panel: 

  • Monocrystalline panels 
  • Polycrystalline panels 

The difference lies in how the silicon is used. Monocrystalline panels use a silicon block while polycrystalline panels use small silicon crystals. On the other hand, the yield of monocrystalline (between 16% and 24%) is slightly higher than that of polycrystalline (between 14% and 20%). 


To ensure the optimal installation of your photovoltaic solar panels, the panels must be:  

  • fully south-facing, 
  • at an incline of 30° to 35°, 
  • not close to shaded areas, 
  • kept clean at all times to improve their ability to harvest light. 

Once the solar panels are installed, they must be connected. The inverters located under the panels collect the direct current and convert it into alternating current. At the end of the chain, an electric meter measures the amount of electricity produced. 

Is it profitable to install a solar panel in the north of France?


The amount of energy produced by the panels depends on its technical properties, but also on the amount of sunshine to which the installation site is exposed.  

Don't forget that even though the north sees more cloud cover than the south, this won't stop solar panels from storing the light emitted by the sun. This light, even if diminished by clouds, is harvested by the panels and generates electrical energy.  

The fact is that a panel installed in the south of France produces about 25% more electricity compared to a panel located in the north. Having said that, many surveys have also proved that in spring and summer, a solar panel located in the north will produce up to 20% more energy than in the east. 

While the initial investment may seem high, the lifetime of the solar panels as well as the energy captured will significantly lower your electricity bill from usual suppliers, even in the north! 


Based on feedback from solar panel users, experience shows the following:  

  • Installing solar panels with an average surface area of 25m2 to 30m2 allows a family of four to produce enough energy for its own annual use ("self-consumption"). 
  • The profitability of a solar panel installation depends on the production area and the quality of the cells/resistors over time. If these deteriorate quickly, you will need to replace the defective panels, which will obviously come at an additional cost. 
  • Solar panel users in the north of France will need to install a top surface of panels to produce the same amount of energy as those in the south. 

What happens to the energy that is produced but not used?

There are several options: 

  • You can use all the collected energy for your own consumption.  
  • If you produce more than you consume, you can choose to sell the energy produced back to your electricity supplier (pay attention to the resale price of the kWh compared to the purchase price. Do your maths!). 
  • Alternatively, you can choose to install batteries to store the energy produced daily. 


The average life of the batteries to store the energy recovered by the solar panels is up to 10 years. At present, this setup is the least commonly used by consumers because the overall cost per kWh is higher than from a traditional grid. 

Remember, first and foremost, that installing solar panels saves money. Yes, the initial investment may seem high but the savings you will make immediately after installation will reduce your bills.  

If you choose to install a larger area of panels, you can also sell the energy produced back to an electricity supplier. 

If you live in the northern half of France, do not let any misconceptions put you off. Installing solar panels in the north of France is a sound investment and is cost effective. All you need to do is choose quality panels that will last over time. This will allow you to control your costs during installation and later maintenance work. 


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