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!

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

earth-nb-big
tracker1
windmill
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 - The Greenhouse Effect

Ninety-three million miles away, the sun blazes energy toward Earth. When this energy reaches Earth, the energy transmitted in short wave-lengths (visible light, ultraviolet, etc.) penetrates our atmosphere and strikes the Earth's surface. Energy in long wavelengths (such as infrared, thermal radiation or heat) is absorbed by carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere. When penetrating short wavelengths strike Earth, they are converted into long wavelengths (in the form of heat radiation) and reflected back toward space. Some thermal radiation escapes, but most of it remains trapped inside our atmosphere. These long waves build up and keep Earth warm. This phenomenon, known as the greenhouse effect, enables life to flourish on Earth. Its future effects are also the subject of much discussion.

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Renewable Energy: An Overview - Solar Architecture in Ancient Greece

According to Socrates, the ideal home should be cool in summer and warm in winter. But Socrates' ideal was not easy to accomplish 2,500 years ago in ancient Greece. The Greeks had no artificial means of cooling their homes during the scorching summers; nor were their heating systems, mostly portable charcoal-burning braziers, adequate to keep them warm in winter.

Modern excavations of many Classical Greek cities show that solar architecture flourished throughout the area. Individual homes were oriented toward the southern horizon, and entire cities were planned to allow their citizens equal access to the winter sun. A solar-oriented home allowed its inhabitants to depend less on charcoal - conserving fuel and saving money.

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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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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.

...
Continue reading
29811 Hits

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

earth-nb-big
tracker1
windmill
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.

...
Continue reading
95868 Hits

Renewable Energy: An Overview - Wind

Wind may have been one of the first energy sources harnessed by man. For centuries, windmills have been used to pump water and operate grinding-mills. Less than 100 years ago, windmills provided a significant amount of energy consumed in rural areas.

Wind is often considered an indirect form of solar energy because wind currents are created when the sun unequally heats different areas of the Earth's atmosphere. It is renewable because the wind blows. In one 24-hour period, the wind blowing across the U.S. offers almost 14 times the energy used by the entire country. The problem arises in capturing that energy and putting it to use.

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Renewable Energy: An Overview - Solar

Today in Arizona, solar energy is making an ever increasing impact. It is believed that Arizona has the highest per capita number of solar installations of any state in the continental U.S. Most of these installations are for solar hot water, but there are other popular uses of solar energy in Arizona today.

Passive solar homes (homes that are designed for natural heating and cooling) are popular in both mountain and desert areas of the state. Some of these homes have adobe, rammed earth, or straw bale as a building material.

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Renewable Energy: An Overview - Future Greenhouse Effects

As carbon dioxide and certain other gases increase in the atmosphere, more and more of the heat that should escape and radiate into space remains trapped. This trapped heat is the subject of debate within the scientific community. Scientists, lined up on each side of the issue disagree as to whether this heat may cause a rise in global temperatures.

According to the late Carl Sagan, a world-renowned environmental author, the typical global temperature difference between an ice age and an interglacial period is three to six degrees Celsius (5 degrees to 11 degree Fahrenheit). Sagan theorized that if global temperatures were to rise three to six degrees C, water would become warmer and expand, melt polar ice caps and raise sea levels. Under these conditions, many islands would disappear and the oceans would flood such coastal cities as New York, Los Angles and Tokyo. Just a three-foot rise in sea level would triple the size of San Francisco Bay.

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Renewable Energy: An Overview - Future Greenhouse Effect

As carbon dioxide and certain other gases increase in the atmosphere, more and more of the heat that should escape and radiate into space remains trapped. This trapped heat is the subject of debate within the scientific community. Scientists, lined up on each side of the issue disagree as to whether this heat may cause a rise in global temperatures.

According to the late Carl Sagan, a world-renowned environmental author, the typical global temperature difference between an ice age and an interglacial period is three to six degrees Celsius (5 degrees to 11 degree Fahrenheit). Sagan theorized that if global temperatures were to rise three to six degrees C, water would become warmer and expand, melt polar ice caps and raise sea levels. Under these conditions, many islands would disappear and the oceans would flood such coastal cities as New York, Los Angles and Tokyo. Just a three-foot rise in sea level would triple the size of San Francisco Bay.

...
Continue reading
14580 Hits

Renewable Energy: An Overview - Wind

Wind may have been one of the first energy sources harnessed by man. For centuries, windmills have been used to pump water and operate grinding-mills. Less than 100 years ago, windmills provided a significant amount of energy consumed in rural areas.

Wind is often considered an indirect form of solar energy because wind currents are created when the sun unequally heats different areas of the Earth's atmosphere. It is renewable because the wind blows. In one 24-hour period, the wind blowing across the U.S. offers almost 14 times the energy used by the entire country. The problem arises in capturing that energy and putting it to use.

...
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Renewable Energy: An Overview - Solar

Updated December 11, 2013

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AZ Dept. of Commerce "Bright Ideas" Report on Photovoltaics - Introduction

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Photovoltaics (PV) - Introduction

Throughout the history of mankind the sun has inspired worship, awe and fear.  In ancient Egypt, it was the sun god Ra who held the supreme place among all deities as the giver of life.  In Greek and Roman legend, the sun was a fiery chariot driven across the face of the sky.

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AZ Dept. of Commerce "Bright Ideas" Report on Photovoltaics - Introduction

#azdoc-rprt-hdg#

Photovoltaics (PV) - Introduction

Throughout the history of mankind the sun has inspired worship, awe and fear.  In ancient Egypt, it was the sun god Ra who held the supreme place among all deities as the giver of life.  In Greek and Roman legend, the sun was a fiery chariot driven across the face of the sky.

...
Continue reading
43306 Hits