Arizona Solar Center Blog

Commentary from Arizona Solar Center Board Members and invited contributors.

While blog entries are initiated by the Solar Center, we welcome dialogue around the posted topics. Your expertise and perspective are highly valued -- so if you haven't logged in and contributed, please do so!

AZ Dept. of Commerce Report - Glossary

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Glossary of Terms

Alternating Current:  Electric Current in which the direction of flow is reversed at frequent intervals, 60 cycles per second.  The type of electrical supplied by utility companies.

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AZ Dept. of Commerce Report - Birth of a Technology

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The Birth of a Technology

French scientist Edmund Becquerel in 1839 discovered the photovoltaic effect – that light falling on certain materials can produce electricity.  Later physicist, including Albert Einstein, found that tiny photons, or particles of light, could interact with electrons surrounding the nucleus of an atom.  That interaction causes a free stream of electrons - the basis of electricity.

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AZ Dept. of Commerce Report - From Calculators to Power Plants

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From Calculators to Power Plants: PV Systems in Action

Photovoltaics systems are quite different from traditional methods of generating electricity. Their power production is directly affected by the weather and the time of day – I. e. they can’t produce electricity without sunshine. Ironically, photovoltaic cells are also affected by the sun’s heat becoming less efficient at high temperatures.

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AZ Dept. of Commerce Report - Fundamentals of Photovoltaics

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The Fundamentals of Photovoltaic Systems

The basic element of a photovoltaic system is the solar cell. Modern solar cells are approximately 4 inches square and are most often made from silicon, a semiconductor.

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AZ Dept. of Commerce Report - Glossary

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Glossary of Terms

Alternating Current:  Electric Current in which the direction of flow is reversed at frequent intervals, 60 cycles per second.  The type of electrical supplied by utility companies.

...
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AZ Dept. of Commerce Report - Sizing a Photovoltaic System

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Sizing a Photovoltaic System

(What follows is a quick and easy method for sizing photovoltaic systems. However, the formula is not intended

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AZ Dept. of Commerce Report - Solar Cells

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Single – Crystalline Cells

The oldest and most efficient type of photovoltaic cell is made from single-crystalline Silicon.  It is called single-crystalline because the atoms form a nearly perfect, regular lattice – if you could see into the cell, it would look exactly the same in almost every spot.  In these cells, electrons released during the photovoltaic effect have clear, unobstructed paths on which to travel.

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Solar for Consumers - Electrical Generation - PV & Thermal Solar



Photovoltaics



How a PV Cell Works

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Solar for Consumers - Electrical Generation - PV & Thermal Solar



Photovoltaics



How a PV Cell Works

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Solar for Consumers

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Solar for Consumers

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Student Competitions

Developing interest in science, math and engineering among students is an important endeavor. Competitions like the ones below are excellent engineering activities to foster excitement in students of all ages about various ways to use photovoltaic cells.

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Suggestions for Students and Teachers

The Arizona Solar Center website is a learning resource for students, consumers and professionals alike. For introductory and background educational material, we highly recommend the following content on our website:

Additional educational resources on this website include the following:

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Overview of Courses

The State of Arizona has many organizations that teach concepts and applications of solar energy usage. Our previous detailed list of courses is currently being updated. The following institutions have offered courses in the past. You may contact them directly for more information.
  • Arizona State University
  • Chandler-Gilbert Community College
  • Coconino Community College
  • Gentle Strength University
  • Northern Arizona University
  • Pima Community College
  • University of Arizona
  • Yavapai College
  • Other AZ Institutions
You may also want to contact the entities given on the University Initiatives page.

Other:

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Arizona Solar Center Board

2014 Board Members

AzSC Officers

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About the Arizona Solar Center

azsc-logoArizona Solar Center Mission

The mission of the Arizona Solar Center is to enhance the utilization of renewable energy, educate Arizona's residents on solar technology developments, support commerce and industry in the development of solar and other sustainable technologies and coordinate these efforts throughout the state of Arizona.

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Renewable Energy: An Overview

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Renewable energy is the term used to describe energy that comes from sources whose supplies are regenerative and virtually inexhaustible. Among these sources are sunshine, wind, water, vegetation, and the heat of the earth.

Throughout history, these sources have been successfully harnessed and used to provide energy. Almost 2,500 years ago, the Greeks designed their homes to use winter sunlight for heating. Large, south-facing windows were used to collect solar heat, which was stored in massive walls and floors for gradual release throughout the night. The wind has also been used as an energy source for centuries. Some of its early uses include propelling ships and pumping water.

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Renewable Energy: An Overview - Water

Humans have long sought to control power as well as energy. For those that lived near lakes and streams, the advantages of transport by flotation must have been perceived early.

Before and during the Middle Ages, the geared water mill spread from Rome throughout western Europe. The watermill was used to grind grain, saw wood and marble, and for turning grindstones. The scarcity of slaves and the value of draft animals for other uses may have accelerated its acceptance. These watermills formed the power base for civilization prior to the Industrial Revolution.

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Renewable Energy: An Overview - Biomass

vegetation
Biomass can be a significant energy resource when used as fuel. Biomass is plant materials or animal waste used as a source of fuel. In a sense, biomass is really another form of solar energy. Plants store energy derived from the sun and convert it into chemical energy through photosynthesis. Waste plant and animal materials still contain energy, which can be captured through "bioconversions."

The most important issue facing the goal of extensive biomass production in Arizona is the availability of land and water for such purposes. While land availability does not appear to be a problem in this state, water availability is.

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Renewable Energy: An Overview - Geothermal

When the planet was first formed, it was a fiery ball of liquid and gas. As it cooled, an outer crust formed over the hot mass. This crust is the surface of the earth where man dwells. Geothermal energy is nearly as old as the Earth itself. It comes from heat being trapped in hot melted rock, called magma or lava, below the Earth's surface. When this heat energy is tapped, it is a tremendous source of power.

Geothermal energy is a renewable resource; about 95 percent of the hot water in geothermal reservoirs began as cool rainwater. When rainwater seeps through cracks in the Earth's crust, it is heated by magma and turns to steam. The steam rises to the atmosphere, cools, turns back to liquid, falls back to earth as rain and eventually seeps back through cracks to be turned back into steam.

Arizona has an abundance of low-temperature geothermal areas, or hot springs, in the southeastern part of the state. Although the majority of these areas are not suitable for generating electricity, they do have potential for heating and cooling greenhouses, nurseries and fish farms.

The two highest temperature springs in the state are Clifton and Gillard, both in the Clifton-Morenci area of southeastern Arizona. The water temperature at these springs ranges from 158-180 degrees Fahrenheit. Even though temperatures may exceed 284 degrees Fahrenheit at depth, these two sites are only suitable for low grad steam. Neither of these areas has been developed.

More on geothermal energy here.

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