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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!

Solar Technology & Science

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Renewable Energy Overview

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Living with the Sun - Arizona Style

Arizona is a land of physical and climatic diversity -

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from the San Francisco Peaks to the Sonoran desert, Arizonans past and present have adapted to this land of diversity and often to conditions of climatic intensity. The heat of the desert summer sun and the cold of a mountain winter have had direct impact on the form and shape of our buildings, and the patterns of our behavior.

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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 - 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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