WHAT IS SOLAR ENERGY?
The next time you look up at the sun, you’re looking at the largest source of energy received by the Earth! In one hour, more energy in the form of sunlight hits the Earth than all of humanity consumes in a full year. Solar energy is the fast growing source of alternative energy in the world, with more solar being installed in 2015 than all of the years before that combined!
Wait, solar is growing? Does that mean that the sun is getting larger?
No! The sun provides far more energy than we have the ability to use, but we have only recently developed the advanced technology needed to take advantage of the sun’s energy in much larger amounts and at a lower cost than fossil-fuel energy generation.
There are two primary ways that have been developed to harness the sun’s energy: photovoltaics and thermal. Photovoltaics is the act of capturing and converting sunlight energy with solar panels, turning into usable electricity. Any time you see solar panels on the roof of a home or building, at least a portion of their electricity is being generated by the sun! Thermal is the use of the sun’s heat to warm and create steam in order to generate electricity. Thermal is most commonly used to power facilities such as factories or dams.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Sunlight is absorbed by your solar panels, turning it into Direct Current (DC) electricity.
DC electricity from your solar panels is sent to your Inverter. Your inverter converts the electricity to Alternating Current (AC), and sends it to your electrical box to power your home.
Unused electricity generated by your solar system is sent to the Utility Grid, providing energy for your neighbors in exchange for a credit towards power you use later.
DID YOU KNOW?
A Huge Resource
The sun sends more solar energy to the earth in one hour than all of humanity consumes in a full year!
Growing by the Day
As of 2016, there is enough solar energy installed in Arizona to power over 300,000 homes!
Reduce Your Footprint
The average home solar system reduces the same amount of pollution that is made by driving 24,000 miles in a car!
That's A Lot of Water
In Arizona, it takes half a gallon of water to generate a single kilowatt hour of fossil fuel electricity.
SOLAR LEARNING RESOURCES
Click on any of the images below to access the resources pictured.
Catch the Wind
Harness the Sun
22 hands on activities for kids to get engaged in a hands-on, interactive manner with the power of renewable energy.
(Now available at Antigone Books)
EIA: Energy 4 Kids
The Energy Information Administration's website features a section devoted to educating kids on the practicality and usage of renewable energy.
TFS' own Solar Education Portal provides in-depth explanation of the systems that will typically be found on most home rooftops.
Ask A Solar Expert
Working on a sun-powered homework assignment? Curious about how solar works? The solar gurus at TFS are here to help!
Whether your curiosities are big or small, just use the message box to submit your solar questions directly to the experts at Technicians For Sustainability and we'll get back to you with the information you're looking for!
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