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Solar Power

Solar energy is everywhere, and is being increasingly used for power, but it is expensive to harness.

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Rooftop Solar

Rooftop Solar

Credit: Pujanak
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Solar_panels_on_a_roof.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Coming soon to a house near you – or even to your own house - rooftop solar. Solar energy is clean, cheap and limitless. Everywhere in the United States receives at least some of it most days.

Why It Matters

  • Converting solar energy into solar power for a home requires a rooftop system.
  • Sunlight strikes the photovoltaic (PV) cells on the panel.
  • The PV cells have two layers of semiconductors, one positive and one negative. The electric field between the two layers causes electricity to flow.
  • A greater intensity of light generates a greater amount of electricity.
  • Credit: NASA
    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ROSSA.jpg
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Solar panels are used on the International Space Station (ISS) [Figure2]

Explore More

With the link below, learn more about rooftop solar. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What is the process that converts sunlight into electricity that can be used in a home?
  2. What happens to the extra power that a rooftop solar system generates on a sunny day? What benefit does the owner of the solar system get?
  3. What part of the United States would benefit the most from developing solar power? Does this mean that solar power is not useful for some areas?
  4. What are two possible reasons that a solar system is not found on every rooftop in every location that there is enough incoming solar energy? (Hint: Think about money.)

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Pujanak; Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Solar_panels_on_a_roof.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: NASA; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ROSSA.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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