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Solar Energy By: Paige Scigliano. Author’s note: This project is a booklet intended for an audience of people who are already interested in the environment but don’t know much about solar energy. I followed a question-and-answer format for the purpose of educating my audience.

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Solar Energy

By: Paige Scigliano

Author’s note: This project is a booklet intended for an audience of people who are already interested in the environment but don’t know much about solar energy. I followed a question-and-answer format for the purpose of educating my audience.

Solar Energy

By: Paige Scigliano

Californians, are you interested in saving money while helping our world's environment? Solar Energy is the new technological phenomenon that can drastically improve the conditions in our world today. The beautiful state of California is known for its sunny blue skies, naturally making it the perfect place to implement this new and exciting technology. Solar technology will not only keep your skies clear and blue, but it will also help you save money. This pamphlet has been prepared to answer questions that pertain to this groundbreaking technology and assist you in making a worthy decision.

What is Photovoltaics and how does it work?

What is photovoltaics? When was this term first used? According to solar cell scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (2008), solar cells, also called photovoltaics (PV), convert sunlight directly into electricity. Photovoltaics is also known as the photoelectric effect and solar

energy. The photoelectric effect was first founded in 1839 by French physicist Edmond Becquerel (Steenstrup, 2003). Today calculators and watches are examples of simple forms of PV devices. PV has many beneficial factors ranging from ecological benefits to new job opportunities. How do solar panels work? Semiconductors are the contents inside PV cells (Aldous, 2000). Semiconductors absorb sunlight to transfer energy to these cells, thus allowing electrons to flow freely (Aldous, 2000). “This flow of electrons is a current, and by placing metal contacts on the top and bottom of the PV cell, we can draw that current off to use externally (Aldous, 2000).” Below is a diagram that illustrates how a solar panel system works.

Source: 2005 Carmanah Technologies Corporation.

Solar Energy

By: Paige Scigliano

What has been done so far to increase the use of Solar Energy in California?

Over the past thirty years there have been numerous California Renewable Energy Proposals. Today there is a large demand for new solutions and new technologies to help provide cleaner air. In 2003 the state of California ‘Energy Action Plan’ proposed

by three agencies was approved by The Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission, the Consumer Power and Conservation Financing Authority (CPA), and the Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). According to the ConsumerPowerandEnergy Resource Public Utilities (2005), the goal of the ‘Energy Action Plan is to “Ensure that adequate, reliable, and reasonably-priced electrical power and natural gas supplies, including prudent reserves, are achieved and provided through policies, strategies, and actions that are cost-effective and environmentally sound for California's consumers and taxpayers” (CPUC).

What are some examples of current solar energy projects in California?

Recently, the world’s largest solar farm was signed to be constructed by two utility companies in Southern California (Ray Power, 2006). “The building plans call for a 500-megawatt facility in the Mojave Desert and a 300-megawatt plant in Imperial Valley—about double the country's current solar energy capacity, which at the end of 2004 was 397 megawatts, according to the U.S. Department of Energy” (Ray Power, 2006).

Source: Ecofuss Eco Friendly News

Solar Energy

By: Paige Scigliano

In August of 2005 President Bush signed the Energy Policy Act. This policy provides tax breaks to Americans while trying to combat energy problems. In January 2006 consumers who purchase specific energy efficient products receive a credit for all purchases that is up to $500. Consumers also receive a 30% credit for buying particular photovoltaic property and solar water heating property (Department of U.S. Energy). Even though this tax credit has attracted many people to change to alternative energy, it will expire in 2008. A major reason why Americans do not use more of renewable energy is because it is very costly. The construction and operation of renewable power plants are more expensive than coal and natural gas plants (Energy Information Administration, 2008). It is also very difficult to transfer energy from remote areas that receive more sunlight to other areas that do not. The construction of transmission lines to transfer the power would be costly. However, the energy act was a huge step toward improving our energy use. It not only justified to Americans that this is a serious issue, but it also was a great step towards the U.S. becoming less dependent on foreign oils and more self- sufficient.

Solel Inc. is an Israeli based company that is helping to bring clean environmentally- friendly energy to Americans. With this new solar power park, 400,000 northern and central Californian homes will be powered by clean renewable energy. (Solel, 2007) Pacific Gas and Electric agreed to a 25 year Power Purchase Agreement with Solel Inc in July 2007 to supply energy from the Mojave Solar Park. The Mojave Solar Park stretches across nine miles of the Mojave Desert and will generate up to 553 megawatts. The park will start being constructed in 2009 and it won’t be ready until 2011. By 2010, California’s goal is to have 20% of their energy from renewable energy. “The solar thermal project announced today is another major milestone in realizing our goal to supply 20 percent of our

customers‘ energy needs with clean renewable energy," said Fong Wan, vice president of energy procurement at PG&E (Ehrlich, 2007). With this new farm, affordable energy will be established and there will be a cleaner environment.

What is the Energy Policy Act?

Solar Energy

By: Paige Scigliano

Why isn’t solar energy our main source of energy in California?

Solar energy has made huge advancements over the past decade. Solar energy posses more advantages compared to disadvantages. However, since solar energy is still in its early stages of development there are still some inconsistencies. Technical issues with the operation of solar panels and devices have had some affect on the reason why solar energy is not our main source. Yet, researchers and technicians have been working to fix these problems and perfect the operating systems on these panels and devices to make the energy more reliable and stable.

How much will the installation of solar energy technologies cost me?

The initial cost to set up the necessary solar panels

and equipment is still expensive for households. Since the technologies are still new there are less substitutes, thus making it costly. In the future as solar energy technologies increase the quantity supplied and more businesses distribute these eco-friendly systems, it is likely that the initial cost will decrease.

What if I have a limited amount of land?

The installation of solar energy systems requires a large area of land. Researchers are coming up with new innovated ways to transfer solar energy from massive solar energy parks to areas that have a limited amount of space.

What will I do at nighttime when there is no longer solar sunlight to power my house?

Unfortunately, in order for solar energy systems

to work they must be powered by light. There are solar power battery chargers that stores energy from the sun that can be

Solar Energy

By: Paige Scigliano

used during the nighttime. These solar energy technologies may not replace coal energy entirely, but it will add to a cleaner environment.

How does solar energy

benefit the economy?

With the demand of new environmentally friendly

technologies and products, green collar jobs are becoming more and more popular throughoutCalifornia.

What are the benefits of solar energy?

Solar energy has the potential to strengthen our economy and save our environment. If the process stays along a steady and secure course and certain inconsistencies can be resolved, then solar energy should eventually be able to account for our world's main power source.

In the San Francisco Bay Area many residents are making the decision to put their money towards businesses that are recreating a cleaner environment (Pinderhughes). In 2004 a study run by the

Source: Science Progress

University of California- Berkeley, researchers concluded that “…under every scenario examined, the renewable energy sector generated more jobs

than the fossil fuel sector per MW installed, per unit of delivered energy and per dollar of investment” (Asmus, 2008). “If measured on the basis of jobs created per million dollars of annual investment over one decade, the wind industry generates 5.7 person-years of employment compared to just 3.96 person-years of employment for the dirty coal power we currently buy from other states” (Asmus, 2008)

Solar Energy

By: Paige Scigliano

What are the advantages of solar energy over oil- based energy?

Solar energy does not pollute the environment and has the potential to reduce energy consumption

substantially. Solar energy benefits your community, your health, and the future of the world. Oil- based energy is very limited, costly, and harmful to the environment.

The initial cost for solar energy technology is very costly. It seems like I don't save any money- is this true?

False. Overtime the initial cost of installation will seem like a bargain compared to the amount of money

you would spend on all of your energy bills over a course of years. In the future, the price of the initial cost of installation will decrease. There are also incentives to go solar from tax rebates to exemptions. Solar energy

runs entirely on the sun, so there are no bills for the use of sunlight to generate energy and the sun is renewable while oil is not.

This concludes the FAQ on Solar Energy. I hope that this presentation has helped you to understand how important and beneficial this great new technology is. The need for efficient and clean energy of this sort is overwhelming as our planet’s environment and resources are continually being depleted. Solar energy presents a practical and highly cost-effective solution to the energy and environmental crisis that our planet is currently in. Your awareness and concern is greatly appreciated and I hope you can find a way to channel your efforts towards giving our world a better tomorrow.

Solar Energy

By: Paige Scigliano


Wildermuth, J (2008) Surprise Opponents to Renewable Energy Measure. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved October 21, 2008, from

Aldous, Scott (2000). How Solar Cells Work. Retrieved October 22, 2008, from How Stuff Works Web site:

Pinderhughes, R (2004). Green Collar Jobs. Retrieved October 13, 2008, from Race, Poverty, and the Environment Web site:

Asmus, P (2008). Harvesting California's Renewable Energy Resources: A Green Jobs Business Plan. Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, Retrieved October 1, 2008, from

Solel USA (2007).. Retrieved October 1, 2008, from Solel: Leading the World in Solar Thermal Energy Web site:

Weissteins, E (1996-2007). Power. Retrieved October 1, 2008, from Wolfram Research Web site: