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Solar Energy A New Tomorrow

Team C
Professor Vanorny
DeVry University LAS432

Table of Contents

Douglas Neudeck.1
Cosmin Roiban9
Katherine Robertson...X
Tracy Smith19
David Moore..29
Richard Mesny...38
Andrea Pruitt..48
Trina Neil...57

X Submitted separately.
What is Solar Energy? Douglas Neudeck 1
Solar power is sustainable green energy that can protect our economy and environment,
and is improving the quality of lives of millions of people. It was originally developed for energy
requirements for orbiting earth satellite, but solar energy has expanded in recent years for our
domestic and industrial needs. Collecting sunlight and converting it into electricity to produce
solar power. Solar technology research is having positive impact in delivering electrical power
for usage in homes and businesses at more affordable cost. This impact is a worldwide
phenomenon. Leading countries including US, China, Germany and Japan are providing
fundamental research Into Photovoltaic cells and increasing efficiencies at more affordable costs.
The applications of the research are producing results in doubling the total Mega Watts of the
solar energy industry to meet demands of the world. These deliverables has double each year in
the last 3 years (2013). On a commercial scale, solar power has delivered less than 1% of the
total commercially produced electrical energy needs. Going forward, this percentage is expected
to grow, slowly meeting the growing demand, and replacing fossil fuel electrical generating
plants, while still utilizing existing infrastructure of electrical power transmission.
The discussion in this section will describe different solar power technologies, solar
Photovoltaic (PV) cells, Concentrating Solar power, recommendations of National Renewable
Energy Laboratory and information from Solar Industry including US government agencies. A
solar cell, also called photovoltaic (PV) cell, converts sunlight directly into electricity. The cells
are connected in series and/or parallel grid arrangement to provide 12 volts DC or a multiple of
12 volts. Solar panels typically contain 36 to 72 cells. Multiple panels together connected
together are called an array. The DC voltage from the array in a home is wired to a battery for
storage to use during no sunlight conditions. The DC voltage is changed to AC voltage for
regular home use to meet the needs of the homeowner. In an array for commercial use, the large
What is Solar Energy? Douglas Neudeck 2
numbers of solar panels provide larger voltage and current to drive the generator at utility
companys facility.
The current availability of solar panels for the homeowner is extensive and affordable.
The cost of a system to the homeowner can be calculated from the data on the cubic footage of
interior of the home. Sizing a system for the homeowners needs is most important consideration
in choosing to go solar. The correct size solar system can provide all the electrical needs and can
generate additional electricity to sell to utility company. The US government also provides a tax
incentive for solar installations to homeowner. This is the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
Stephen Fonash, professor at Pennsylvania State University, in his book, Solar cell device
physics, puts forth a scientific explanation of photovoltaic electric generation in four steps
(Fonash, 2010):
1. Light absorption
2. Conversion of electron to excited state
3. Transport of electrons to cathode
4. Electrons perform work and return to anode
The energy coming from the sun has been measured and plotted, giving a set of data called the
solar spectra. It is important to understand the available energy from the sun for a given area. In
the United States a wide range of available energy is available for different parts of the country.
Any part of the world with sunlight can produce electricity. Some areas produce more electricity
than others because more sunlight strikes that location. The solar radiation spectra shown in
Fig.1, is interesting in that it shows different energies from the sun in different wavelengths. The
part of the graph of interest to solar power is the visible radiation. The ongoing research in PV
What is Solar Energy? Douglas Neudeck 3
cells utilizes the data from solar radiation spectrum to produce electricity. The PV cells and
system are designed according to Fonash, to sense the photons striking the cell, absorbing the
photons, converting an electron to excited state. The system provides terminals to transport the
released electrons to a cathode terminal. These electrons perform work on a load, (light bulb,
motor, electrical device) then return to the anode terminal. At the anode the electron combines
with a hole-pair to complete the system

Solar Radiation Spectrum (

What is Solar Energy? Douglas Neudeck 4
PV cells can use different materials in combination, including Silicon (Si), Germanium (Ge),
Copper (Cu), Gallium (Ga) and others. (NREL, 2013) The most common PV Cells in use are
Silicon, crystalline silicon, crystalline germanium arsenide, polymorphous silicon, amorphous
silicon, copper indium gallium selenium (CIGS) and Cadmium Tellurium. Generation 1 (G1)
cells, primarily silicon wafers, typically had efficiency ratings of 6%. This low efficiency rating
and high costs are a couple of reasons why this generation of cells prevented wide spread usage
of solar power. The importance of this beginning research cannot be overstated in acquiring
knowledge of solar power research. Silicon-based cells account for approximately 90% of sales
in 2011.
Generation 2 (G2) increased efficiencies up to 15%. Second generation solar cell are
called thin film named form manufacturing the thickness of a few micrometers thick. These can
be used in rooftop shingles, tiles and building facades or glazing in skylights.
Generation 3 (G3) have efficiencies up to 30%. Third generation solar cells are made
from a variety of materials including solar inks, solar dyes and conductive plastics. The low cost
makes it affordable for rural areas without commercial power. The breakthrough in lowering cost
and increased efficiencies enables many individuals and businesses to embrace solar for their
electrical needs.
Generation 4 (G4) cells currently under testing have demonstrated efficiencies greater
than 40%. NREL has partnered with PV industry to produce Inverted Metamorphosis
Multijunction (IMM) cell. These cells have 3 to 5 junctions. This cutting edge research at NREL
is leading the way into the future of solar photovoltaic. Research and developments at National
Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL, 2013) are expecting next generation multi-junction cells
What is Solar Energy? Douglas Neudeck 5
to produce 50% efficiencies. These results and future expectations hold great promises for our
world to power our society with free solar energy. The future hope is to decommission the fossil
fuel generating plants which are polluting our world.
Research on solar technologies in China and United States has increased dramatically in
the last decade. Results of the intensive research are yielding impressive production in the
efficiencies of the PV cells with lowered costs. The affordable costs enable governments,
businesses and individual to make an informed decision in selecting solar power for electrical
The number of manufacturers worldwide has increased particularly in China, listing four
of the top 5 manufacturers capturing nearly 20% market in solar cell production worldwide. The
number of PV solar plants with greater than 100 Mega Watt capacities is now at 22 plants.
(CleanTechnica, 2013). The largest is 600 MW plant in India. The US lists 11 of the top 22,
located primarily in southwestern US. The sun provides enough energy in one hour to satisfy a
years worth of the worlds energy needs. It just makes sense to tap the suns energy to meet the
demands of our electrified world.
In commercial electrical power generation, solar power is demonstrating that scalable
power can be produced and transmitted to the power grid. A 250 MW PV solar plant can provide
power to 90,000 homes. Three primary technologies are delivering scalable power to utility
First method of commercial solar power technology is called the parabolic trough system.
(NREL, 2013). In this CSP method, the parabolic trough tracks the sunlight throughout the day.
The suns rays are focused to a pipe containing specially designed oil, heating this oil to 750
What is Solar Energy? Douglas Neudeck 6
degrees Fahrenheit. This hot oil is used to boil water. The steam is transferred to a conventional
generator to produce electricity. The electricity is sold and transmitted to utility company for
commercial power. Solana, AZ is home to 280 MW parabolic trough systems. Another system is
under construction in Mojave, CA, also a 280 MW system.
Second Method of CSP is the Power Tower System. Utilizing heliostat mirrors which
track the sunlight, the mirrors focus the suns rays to a tower. This tower houses a boiler system,
heating molten salt to 1050 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat is used to make steam, transferred to a
conventional generator to produce electricity. The electricity is sold to utility company and
transmitted to the power grid. Ivanpah is the largest Power Tower at 377 MW near Las Vegas,
Third Method of CSP is called the Dish Method. A parabolic dish tracking sunlight,
concentrates the suns rays to the focal point receiver. The focal point is the integrated receiver,
with hydrogen or helium filled cylinders. These cylinders drive the pistons on the generator to
produce electricity. Largest dish method CSP is 1.5 MW in Peoria Az.
Solar installations in 2013 increased 41% over 2012 levels. Solar industry added 4,751
MW of solar power in 2013. Solar accounted for 29% increase in added electric capacity, second
only to natural gas. 4Q2013 had 2,106 MW added (SEIA, 2013). There are now over 13,000
MW of solar electric capacity in the US, powering 2,200,000 homes. There were 144,000
installations in 2013, bringing total solar installations to date to 445,000 units, with 2,847 MW of
PV and 410 MW of Solar Concentrating Power (CSP). Forecasts for 2014 are for 6,000 MW of
PV power to come online, representing 26% growth beyond 2013s record totals. 840 MW of
What is Solar Energy? Douglas Neudeck 7
CSP are scheduled to come online, indicating another record. These two technologies will
generate enough electricity to power 1,130,000 homes in 2014.
Largest US solar thermal installation is Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System
(ISEGS), a 377 MW solar complex designed by BrightSource's LPT solar thermal system.
(BrightSourceEnergy 2013) Ivanpah is delivering commercial electrical power to PG&E and
Southern California Edison utility companies. The project is currently the largest solar thermal
plant in the world. Ivanpah is operated by NRG Energy and constructed by Bechtel. Ivanpah uses
100,000 to 120,000 mirrors for each of three towers to focus the power of the sun on solar
receivers atop 459 foot power towers, heating a boiler to 1400 degrees Fahrenheit. The steam
turns a turbine to generate electricity. Estimated costs of the project are $2.2 billion.
1. The electricity generated by all three plants is enough to serve more than 140,000
homes in California during the peak hours of the day.
2. The complex will reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by more than 400,000
tons per year.
3. Located in Ivanpah, approximately 50 miles northwest of Needles, California
(about five miles from the California-Nevada border) on federal land managed by the
Bureau of Land Management.
4. The facility is comprised of three separate plants built in phases between 2010
and 2013, and uses BrightSource Energy's LPT solar thermal technology.
The Ivanpah solar plant is equivalent to a medium sized natural gas powered electrical
plant. A driving force in alternative energy plants is the political directives from states such as
California to obtain 33% of power from solar, wind and other renewable resources by 2020.
Similar laws in 30 other states are known as renewable portfolio standards. Today, in April 2014,
What is Solar Energy? Douglas Neudeck 8
solar accounts for less than 1% of total electrical power generated in the U.S. The trend is
upwards for continuing solar installations with more than 26 GW of PV and CSP projects in the
pipeline, and 550 projects planned representing 32 GW of capacity. Solar power is estimated to
provide 10% of the electrical needs within 10 -15 years.
According to NREL, use of solar passive techniques in home building and retrofitting is
beneficial in the winter months. The south facing homes can utilize the suns rays to capture heat
in the sun spaces inside the home and in Trombe Wall. This is a thick wall in the interior of the
home which heats up during the day and releases the heat at night.
In conclusion, solar power is witnessing advancements in technology that provides
efficiencies and lowered costs, enabling homeowners and businesses affordability to install solar
power for use. The sun provides enough energy in one hour to satisfy a year's worth of world's
energy needs. PV cells are scalable from individual solar panels all the way to 600 Mega Watts
for commercial use for utility companies. Future research and development will add more
capacity, promising lower costs. As more commercial solar arrays come on line; the need for
fossil fuel generating plants diminishes. The large scale solar power plants will utilize existing
electrical transmission infrastructure. The technology of photovoltaic cells research, production,
and installation together with understanding solar spectrum, will allow solar to flourish in a
world starving for more energy. The increasing demand influenced by population expansion and
fossil fuel limitation will be met by solar technologies developed today and in the future. The
source of the energy is limited but will never be reached.

The History of Solar Energy Cosmin Roiban 9
Due to constant increase in energy costs, people turned their attention towards the
alternative sources of energy. Such source is our sun. The sun, the worlds primarily energy,
became the main target because it its reliable, doesnt run out and extremely necessary for our
existence. Moreover, this viable source doesnt form toxic residual materials.
But the solar power is not contemporary. As people have always been preoccupied by the use of
this powerful source, this technologys timeline interval is quite vast, starting all the way back in
the 7
Century Before Christ.
In the historical development of this technology, it is essential to highlight its milestones weather
has been set on a yearly or century basis.
In the 7
Century B.C., in order to produce fire and supposedly to burn ants, the humans
were using magnifying glasses to disperse the rays coming from the sun.
Four centuries later, in the 3
Century B.C., the Romans and Greeks adopted this idea for
religious purposes, firing up their torches. Using the reflective principle, Archimedes of
Syracuse, a well know mathematician inventor and physicist, concentrated the sunlight into
shields made of bronze to set the Roman wooden vessels on fire. This battle took place in the
year of 212, in the 2
Century B.C. Although with no existing documents about this story, his
descendants applied the same technique in 1970s, convinced that this method would work up to a
50 meters.
There is a hard proof dated in the 20
year of the Anno Domini confirming the use of the
fire torches in the Chinese rituals.
For the first four centuries, the Romans were crating big windows to their famous
bathhouses to allow the sunlight warm them up.
The History of Solar Energy Cosmin Roiban 10
Justinian, the Emperor of Byzantium, decreed the sun rights into his memorable Code, along
with the Roman Laws, in the 6
Century A.D. With this enactment, he emphasized the
importance of the sunrooms in the households and civil constructions for the personal benefits of
the great star. This practice is also used later on the North American continent, in the 1200s, by
the Anasazi tribe. They had oriented their coast shelters towards the south to seize the suns
waves and keep warm in the cold seasons.
Hard copies of solar power restrain schemes by Leonardo da Vinci are authenticated for
the 15
Horace Benedict de Saussure, a Swiss scientist crafted the first solar accumulator, with in 1767.
About 50 years later, while exploring South Africa, Sir John Herschel used Horaces invention,
an insulated case topped with three glass sheaths, for cooking his meals.
Throughout the 19
century, American and European scientists and founders created
solar energy prototypes that would articulate the foundation of the contemporary technology. In
1816, Robert Stirling, an actual minister in the Church of Scotland, created a heat engine,
electrical solar thermal machinery which trapped the photons from the sun in order to create
power. Lord Kelvin used a functional copy while teaching academic classes at the Chancery in
Edinburgh, Scotland. Later on, this mechanism was used in the dish/ Stirling conception.
The following milestone is considered the key in the progression of the solar technology
as it exposes the photovoltaic effect. This effect is discovered by Edmund Becquerel, a French
scientist, in 1839. During the test of two metal electrodes into an electrolytic solution, the
scientist observed that the generated power amplified when kept in the sunlight. Although he
publicized his discovery, the technique wasnt actually applied at the moment. Ulterior, August
Mouchet, a French mathematician, recommended a scheme for a solar charged steam motor. His
The History of Solar Energy Cosmin Roiban 11
adjutant, Abel Pifre, build the first solar charged motors in the coming decades. These engines
were used in a various practices and came to be the prototypes of the current parabolic dish
In 1873, Willoughby Smith came upon the photoconductivity of a non-metallic chemical
element, Selenium. That this element conducts greater electricity in the light than when kept in
darker places, was noticed three years later, in 1876, by Williams Grylls Adams and his student,
Richard Evans Day. Despite the fact that the solar cells made off this element were not were not
effective enough to charge an electrical machinery, the inventors were convinced that a stable
material would convert the light into a voltage potential free of dynamic components or heat.
Adams mirrors plan called Power Tower is still utilized these days.
The year of 1880 brings up the invention of the bolometer, by Samuel P. Langley.
Langleys instrument allowed him to thermally determine over an extensive spectrum of stars,
including the sun. The radiation from the pointed star hits the wireline warming it up which
causes its electrical resistance to raise. Three years later, in 1883, the first solar cell made from
selenium slices which converts the sunlight into electricity was invented by an American,
Charles Frits.
In 1887, Heinrich Hertz, a German physicist, was the one to support with facts James Clerks
electromagnetic theories of light. He engineered measuring equipment which collected and
transferred radio oscillations using uncommon laboratory routines. Therefore, the term hertz,
the unit of frequency in the International System of Units was alleged in his honor. In the figure
1 are presented the three seized radiations from our sun, which are: visible light, infrared and
The History of Solar Energy Cosmin Roiban 12

Figure1. Solar radiation spectrum. Source Britannica 2014.
In 1891, Clarence Kemp, an inventor from Baltimore, MD, copyrights the first solar
water on television publicity. Later, 1905 Albert Einstein discloses the photoelectric effect in the
Theory of Relativity book. Sixteen years later his theories brings him the Nobel Prize.
In 1908, a solar accumulator made of Copper coils and a confined case is invented by William
Bailey, a steel companys employee.
In 1916, Robert Millikan gives the experimental demonstration of the photovoltaic reaction.
Sixteen years later, in 1932 the discovery of the photovoltaic reaction in CdS (cadmium sulfide)
is discovered by Stora and Audobert in 1932.
As an outcome from the scant energy at the time of the second worlds war, in 1947 the
Libbey-Owens Ford Glass Company released a book for sale in which it was summarized the
countrys top fifty solar homes designers. The American researchers, Gerald Pearson, Daryl
Chapin and Calvin Fuller established the silicon photovoltaic (PV) technology in the U.S in 54.
Their solar cell was the first off to sustain electrical machinery on a daily basis. Based on the
researches of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE Institute), its efficiency had an
increase of seven percent, initially started from four. One year later, Western Electric was selling
permits for the silicon photovoltaic technologies. At the moment, a PV-powered dollar notes
The History of Solar Energy Cosmin Roiban 13
dispenser was a fortunate device such as the ones that decrypted electronic log cards. Meanwhile,
the worlds first trade architecture using this technology was blueprinted, being authenticated in
the National History Register (2014).
Highly skewed on the market in the 50s and 60s, the silicon solar cell was a bestseller for
spacecrafts power supplies and sooner to become the conventional power source. For instance,
as informed by the same agency, on August 7
, 1959, when the Explorer VI satellite was
propelled into the space, had a cluster build on of about ten thousand small power cells.
Industrious PV is manufactured in the U.S. by Sharp Corporation in 1963, while in Japan the
worlds biggest array was built up on a lighthouse which generated 242 watts. One year later,
NASA launches into space an observatory that generated twice the power, and in 1966 the first
orbital with a power of a kilo which also stored the stellar data in X-rays and ultraviolet wave
lines, initially strained by our planets atmosphere ( 2014).
While Japan and Europe were deprived of governmental financing and space programs in
during the postwar period, in the U.S case was an abundance of such support, which substantially
drove the development of the PV industry, especially in the 70s.
Right now, a considerably cheaper solar cell was casted by Dr. Elliot Berman with the support of
Exxon, an Oil and Gas Corporation. At this time, the cellules are utilized on numerous oil and
gas platforms, railway junctions, lighthouses and private solar functions in secluded areas where
the regular energy suppliers couldnt have been installed at a lower cost.
In 1972, the CdS photovoltaic system reaches the African continent when the French installed it
to in a village school in Niger. During the same year, the Institute of Energy Conversion came to
be the first one ever to effectuate investigations, experiments and progression on thermal
assembly and lean PV. With its headquarters at Delawares University, a year later they
The History of Solar Energy Cosmin Roiban 14
manufactured the Solar One, a PV and thermal combo system, which powered a whole
housing complex. The solar power was used during daylight and the paid service at night.
For a period of almost twenty years, the NASAs research center planted about eighty PV
systems with varied use on each continent but the Australian, starting in 1976. In the same year,
the amorphous silicon PV cells are being produced by David Carlson and C. Wronski.
Due to drastic oil prices increase in 73, the presidents and governors incline to desperate
attempts to discover an alternative to the phenomenon. Therefore, in 1977, the Solar Energy
Research Institute (SERI) is set up by the United States government with the main goal to
harness the stars power. By now, the integral PV fabrication beats the 500 kW borne. One year
later, the Institute installs a 3.5 kW system on one of Arizonas Indian reservation for homes
electricity and water extraction. But the first megawatt of PV systems was manufactured over the
period of 1980 and belonged to a company called ARCO Solar. The company become for a
while the worlds biggest manufacturer and actively conducted researching.
In 1981 takes shape the first solar airplane from the hands of Paul MacCready. His aircraft
retained about sixteen thousands cells and made a flight over the English Channel in Europe. The
following year the first solar car is being made and raced against a gasoline model in Australia.
According to office of the EERE, the victor was the solar powered prototype finishing ahead
with 10 days after covering about six thousands kilometers between the city of Perth and the
business central capital, Sydney. Meanwhile, the PV international manufacturing oversteps the 9
thousands megawatts borne, and to more than double it by next year, with 250 million dollars in
revenue (2014).
The worlds biggest solar heated plantation contract was engaged in California in86. The
facility was boarding lines of mirrors which pondered the energy coming thru the waves of the
The History of Solar Energy Cosmin Roiban 15
sun through an assembly of ducts distributing a heat altered fluidic solution. This fluid helped in
making the steam, which charged a regular generator to produce electricity. Two years after
being nominated as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory by the commander in chief,
G.W. Bush in 91, the SERI finished building up their premises, later to be identified as the US
global most energy-efficient agencies. As reported by the same source, the research workshop
promoted the first gallium arsenide cellule which was the first one to cap over a thirty percent the
amount of sunlight conversion into electricity (2014).
In 1996 the Germans built the global most advanced solar-charged aircraft that operated in their
air space. Six years later is the Americans turn to prove their innovations. NASA successfully
evaluated two pilot-free airplanes, useful in communications and agricultural domains. In the
meantime, the U.S. DOE (Department of Energy) opens Solar Two for operations. Besides
being an upgrade of the Solar One, the second combo system showed how the energy from the
sun can be concentrated efficiently and cost-effective. Moreover it demonstrated these aspects
even when the suns waves were not attainable. It also cherished manufacturing enthusiasm in
heliostats, solar power towers. As the images in the figure # 2 and # 3 presents the American
solar towers.

The History of Solar Energy Cosmin Roiban 16
Figure2. Solar Two. Source DOE (2014) Figure3. Solar One in Nevada. Source DOE
Subhendu Guha, a notable Indian scientist, now the Chairman of the worlds biggest
producer of flexible solar plates, conducted the invention of the product in 1998. The product
was a flexible solar roofing sheet and novelty technology for transforming the sunlight into
The biggest building the city of New York designed and raised up in the 90s was the 4
Times Squares. The skyscraper embodied the most energy-efficient building methods than all of
its kind. Moreover it incorporated BIPV (building-integrated PV) panels on six of its top stories
which generated a fraction of its power.
At the moment of 99, the total global capacity of the PV systems measures a GW.
In first decades of the 21
bring continuous growth and innovation in the development
and researching of the technology, also due to the governments support.
In 2000, the biggest global PV manufacturing company started its production in the Ohios state.
The cosmonauts from the ISS (International Space Station) assembled the worlds biggest solar
power array launched in the outer space. As stated by EERE department, every single cluster arm
of the spacecraft had no less than thirty-two thousands and eight hundred cells. In 2002, the
Union Pacific Railroad placed at its warehouse- the biggest in the country, 350 blue-signal rail
yard lanterns, which incorporate energy saving light-emitting diode ( LED) besides the solar
cellules ( 2014).
The figure # 4 pictures the worlds largest solar wings on a spacecraft.
The History of Solar Energy Cosmin Roiban 17

Figure 4. NASAs Space Station launched in 2000. Source DOE
Concurrently, a Canadian firm, Automation Tooling System Inc., is marketing an original way of
manufacturing the solar cellules. This technology, constituted in very small silicon pearls
fastened in the midst of two layers of aluminum sheets, warranted a significant decrease in costs
due to its considerable cutback in aluminum usage. Although the technology is not innovative,
promoted by the TI (Texas Instruments) in the 90s and abandoned, in spite of the U.S
governments funds, it shows the general interest.
The biggest PV roof system in the country was built in 2001 by Powerlight Co. in the Californian
peninsula. The figure # 5 presents a stage in building a solar powered roof on a house in CO,
The History of Solar Energy Cosmin Roiban 18

Figure 5. A professional installer puts on solar energy system on a homes roof in Colorado.
Source EBCOHost.
The planning future of the PV lines up continues development and profound vocation
into attaining this extremely rare renewable resource. All the constructions and architectures will
be raised to mix building and economical methods and sustainable technologies. This future
might be the one where the personal fashion and transportation are produced with safer and
cleaner power.
Economic Considerations of Solar Energy Tracy Smith 19
Renewable energy, specifically solar energy, has become an invaluable tool in the
Nations efforts to provide cost effective energy solutions for government, businesses, and
citizens that will also combat global warming. The renewable nature of solar energy provides an
unlimited energy source for consumers at all levels of consumption. This paper examines the
cost effectiveness of solar energy and provides information on the multitude of Federal and State
programs created to promote the use of renewable energy. Promotion of these energy sources is
designed to encourage the use of what is now considered green energy. Most states offer
renewable energy incentives that citizens may not be aware of, but with a little searching they
can easily be found online. The many Federal incentives can be found just as easily online. The
industrious consumer who utilizes solar energy will more than likely find ways of benefiting
from any available Federal and or State solar energy incentive programs that are available in
their area. No matter if there are incentives offered, or just the benefit of cost savings, we must
all begin to utilize renewable energy sources to preserve the planet as we now know it. Solar
energy is the responsible way to go.
Renewable energy is a resource that everyone seems to be talking about. Not only are
there several different sources of renewable energy including wind, hydro, and solar options, but
they also provide a substantial cost savings to the user over a period of time. These renewable
energy sources also help to preserve the environment by eliminating harmful gasses and fumes
that are an unavoidable by-product of fossil fuels. The White House has even created a Web site
which outlines President Obamas commitment to the promotion of clean energy and
environmental protection. Out of the available sources of renewable energy solar energy will be
the concentration for this report, and more specifically, the economic questions and
considerations of solar energy.
Economic Considerations of Solar Energy Tracy Smith 20
Although solar energy is capable of providing great cost savings for businesses and
consumers, many believe that it is an unaffordable or impractical energy source. There is a
variety of misinformation surrounding solar energy, some perpetrated by opponents, and even
more resulting from both the lack of information and promotional material. There are many state
and Federal tax credits, grants, rebates, loans, and leasing programs that are offered to consumers
as incentives to use solar energy as a renewable energy source. This report will focus on a variety
of available incentives offered to encourage the use of solar energy, some efforts to thwart the
use of solar energy, and procedures and experiments that are being conducted to reveal the
economic and environmental benefits of solar energy.
The first topic concerning solar energy will be net metering and the immediate benefit to
the customer. Net metering is basically the utility company purchase of excess power generated
by a customer / consumer solar power systems. This will lead into some of the concerns that
utility companies have recently expressed about consumer use of solar energy.
Consumers who have solar energy systems are also tied into their local utility companys
grid to allow them to receive electricity and other utilities during the time periods when power is
not being generated by their solar energy system. Solar energy is only generated during the
daylight hours so consumers must also be afforded utility access during the evening hours as
well. During daylight hours a solar energy system may generate more energy than the consumer
is actually using, or able to use. The process called net metering allows the consumer to basically
sell all unused power back to the utility company. This procedure is most often done with a
credit to the consumer for the amount of energy that is sold back to the utility company. Energy
that is not used will be exported back into the utility companys power grid if the customer
happens to be on the net metering program. This causes the power meter to run in reverse to
Economic Considerations of Solar Energy Tracy Smith 21
compensate for the amount of energy that has gone back into the power grid. Customers must
pay the utility company for the amount of energy that is consumed, minus the credit given for
excess solar energy that goes back into the utility companys power grid.
With the use of solar energy and net metering programs consumers are able to see very
substantial reductions in their power consumption. With net metering they are able to amass even
more cost reduction based on the amount of power that they are able to sell back to their utility
company. Some customers may even be able to achieve a zero balance bill depending on the
amount and time of energy use.
The initial cost of installing the solar energy system may be recovered within five to ten
years depending on the overall size of the system. Some consumers may experience a more
lengthy return on investment depending on the use of their system, and the available programs
and incentives that they choose to take advantage of. No matter how substantial the cost, the
system will eventually pay for itself.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005), the Energy Independence and Security Act
of 2007 (EISA 2007), and Executive Order (E.O.) 13423 have all been signed into law in an
effort to curb the nations energy problems. The Acts and E.O. also provide a number of
incentives for consumers who are currently using, or would like to buy, solar energy systems.
Many of these policies also describe how Federal buildings are to use, and benefit form, solar
energy systems.

Economic Considerations of Solar Energy Tracy Smith 22
ENERGY.GOV (2005) lists these policies for Metering and Reporting under EPAct
Section 103 of EPAct 2005 includes the following requirements surrounding energy use
measurement and accounting:
Directs that all Federal buildings be metered.
Directs the Secretary of Energy to develop guidelines for implementation.
Requires Federal agencies to submit implementation plans to the Department of Energy
(EPAct, 2005).
The three reasons for Section 103 requirements are 1.) To promote efficient energy use and
reduce utility costs in Federal buildings. 2.) To develop a plan of action for implementing the
required metering of Federal buildings. 3.) To identify all government personnel responsible for
carrying out the requirements of Section 103.
Many utility companies do not have an optimistic view of the increase in consumer solar
energy usage, or the many different solar energy plans and incentives that are available to
consumers. Currently there are only 4 states within the United States that do not offer net
metering of some sort. One of the major objections utilities have with net metering is the practice
of being required to pay consumers retail prices for net metered energy, as opposed to wholesale
prices which they deem to be fair. Utilities say that the retail rates received by net metered
consumers effectively allow them to avoid paying for any of the fixed costs that are incurred by
utility companies. A major point of contention is that while avoiding fixed cost contributions
Economic Considerations of Solar Energy Tracy Smith 23
consumers are still provided access to power from the utility companys power grid whenever
Utilities have several concerns about net metering which include consumers actually being a
higher priced competitor that utilities are unable to compete with, being forced to charge higher
prices for customers who are not net metered, and additional services that utilities could
potentially charge customers. These are just a few of the concerns that utilities have about issues
pertaining to the provision of services that they deem unfair.
Fixed costs such as poles, power lines, transformers, and labor are all incurred by utility
companies when providing service to consumers. It is their belief that customers who benefit
from net metering should incur some of these costs. They are not lobbying to obtain direct
payment to offset these costs, but rather lower the amount paid or credited to customers for
energy that is transferred back to the power grid through the process of net metering. Taylors
(2008) study states, What has resulted over the years is social compromise in many states
one that has been highly contentious in some cases. As with most political compromises, utilities
and generators have different degrees of happiness on the details. (Utilities and Net Metering)
The ultimate fear of utility companies is a rise in solar energy consumption by utility
customers. This would several undesirable effects for utilities as well as customers including the
loss of revenue, increases to fixed costs, and raised rates. These factors would not be beneficial
to either the utility, or the remaining customers who are unable to take advantage of the available
net metering incentives.
With an increase in net metering utility companies will be less likely to experience any of
the negative results of over-subscription during heavy or spiked usage periods. However, many
of the benefits will be experienced by customers. These include benefits such as the overall
Economic Considerations of Solar Energy Tracy Smith 24
social and environmental benefits experienced by society as a whole form the use of green
energy, receiving retail rates for net metered energy, lower utility costs, and more spendable
As stated above, a net metering customers overall cost savings is dependent on the
amount of energy that they are able to produce, as opposed to the amount of energy that they
actually consume. System setup, efficiency, and overall energy consumption rate will all play a
part in the amount of profits that are gained, and the length of time before a return on investment
is experienced by the consumer.
Many of the consumer benefits resulting from solar energy use are provided through state
incentives. As stated above, there are currently 43 states that offer net metering benefits, and an
additional 3 utilities in the remaining states, culminating in a total of 46 states that offer some
form of net metering for utility customers. The state that a consumer resides in will determine the
overall amount of solar energy benefits and incentives that are available to them.
California, one of several states with a climate that is conducive to solar energy usage,
offers a number of benefits for consumers who utilize solar energy systems. The state of
California sponsors the California Solar Initiative (CSI) which is a rebate program offered to
customers of investor owned utility companies. The investor owned companies included in the
CSI program are Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and
Electric. California has been supporting a variety of programs to promote green energy
consumption for some time now. CSI participants receive varying degrees of incentives that are
based upon a variety of different criterion. Factors that determine the level of incentive received
by customers are based on solar system performance and efficiency. Over a period of time the
Economic Considerations of Solar Energy Tracy Smith 25
CSI program would like to stimulate an increase in the number of solar energy systems that are
utilized within the state of California.
New Mexico happens to be one of the most solar energy friendly states in the nation. The
state of New Mexico offers financing programs, net metering, and tax credits for consumers who
install solar energy systems. New Mexico offers a system where consumers may finance the total
amount of solar energy systems up front. After the system has been installed a tax lien will be
assessed against the property in the amount of the solar energy system. The system is then paid
off over a period of years along with the purchasers property taxes. This state also offers a net
metering program that provides either an energy credit or cash at the end of the month,
depending on the amount of energy that has been fed back into the utilitys power grid. In
addition to credits and cash payments, several utilities also offer performance based incentives.
In addition to the solar energy benefits listed above New Mexico also offers home owners and
non-corporate business owners a substantial tax credit that may be redeemed after the purchase
of a solar energy system. Credits of up to $9000, or 10% of the purchase price (whichever is
greater) may be received as a tax credit. Additional credits may be applied to allow home and
business owners even greater returns. Being a desert state, New Mexico is not only economically
friendly for solar energy consumers; nature also provides residents with an abundance of sun for
powering their solar systems.
The state of Massachusetts has a program called Solarize Mass which is designed to
promote and increase the use of solar energy within participating communities. The
Massachusetts system works by offering greater increases in savings as more home and business
owners sign up for the program. Businesses also profit from this system because communities
select a single solar energy installation company to install systems for all participants within the
Economic Considerations of Solar Energy Tracy Smith 26
community. One method used by participants in Solarize Mass is the Power Purchase
Agreement. This allows home and business owners to have solar energy systems installed at no
charge. The solar company retains ownership of all equipment, and the home or business owner
is charged a fee for all solar energy that is generated by the system. Massachusetts solar energy
installation companies, also offer leased equipment as another method of reducing up-front costs
to the customer. If customers would like to own the system out right they may also purchase or
finance their system.
There are several online sites that provide solar energy incentive information as offered
by each individual state. Some of the offerings include information on benefits and incentives
such as net metering rates, home owner tax credits, business tax credits, loan and lease programs,
financing, rules and regulations, sales and installation companies, and many other incentives that
are offered.
Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) is an extremely
helpful site for finding an abundance of information on state solar energy incentive programs.
They also provide information on the different Federal and residential incentive programs that
each state participates in. In addition to this information the site also provides a library that offers
reports, articles, presentations, and other literary information concerning solar energy programs
and incentives.
Another helpful and informative site is Clean Technica. This site provides rankings and
grading that are based on states and their solar energy incentive. The site offers easy to use charts
and graphs; in addition to a grading system with an A grade being the most desirable, and F
being extremely poor. Another useful chart provided by Clean Technica shows the actual grading
criteria (chart shown below).
Economic Considerations of Solar Energy Tracy Smith 27
Solar Power Rankings Graphic Criteria:

(Clean Technica, 2013)

Economic Considerations of Solar Energy Tracy Smith 28
ENERGY.GOV is an excellent site for gathering information on solar energy and how it
works, how it is integrated into the power grid, and many other interesting facts. ENERGY.GOV
also provides links to additional sites that offer information on Federal incentive and tax credit
programs. offers information on all Federal incentive programs in addition to
information offered for state programs. DSIRE lists a variety of Federal grant, loan, incentive,
and tax credit programs for solar energy.
One of the most significant solar projects in existence today is the Masdar City project,
located in Abu Dhabi. Masdar City is literally a self-supporting city that relies totally on
renewable energy. When complete the city will be the global hub for businesses dedicate to
research and creation of renewable energy and clean technologies. Masdar City will offer a
renewable energy sustained living, business, and recreational environment in the Abu Dhabi
desert. The city, which is in its beginning stages and isnt scheduled for completion until 2020 or
soon after, will be an international hub for renewable energy research and entrepreneurship.
Masdar City currently supported with on-site renewable energy via a large solar panel
farm. When complete, they plan to obtain the major portion of renewable energy from off-site
sources in addition to using the on-site sources that are currently in place. This city is sure to be
the worlds leading developer of solar and other renewable energies. Hopefully the United States
and other countries will assist with, as well as learn and benefit from this project to ensure that
renewable energy will be the energy source that guides us into a much greener future.

Psychological Considerations of Solar Energy David Moore 29
Advancements in any new technology challenge our beliefs, morals, values, and the
acceptance of others as a social norm. Solar energy is one such advancement that despite its
reputation as being an older technology has advanced quite drastically. Making any kind of
determination, we may sort out the pros and cons or just make a decision based on our behavioral
characteristics like how we feel about this technology or by asking ourselves if this fulfills a need
or want and/or does it solve a problem. We all have a category of fulfillment as well as our own
hierarchy structure of wants. It is how we prioritize these fulfillments and wants that we base
our own determination psychologically. The prioritization factors of solar panel technology
includes our behavior including the Four Drive Model, past and present technological expression
thought process that relates to our own interpersonal skills, the cost of having this newer
technology, our evolution of thinking as well as the Four-Drive Model.
Psychological and sociological factors play a crucial role in our conclusion to use or negate the
use of newer technologies. As a result newer technologies leaves us balancing out our own
conclusion to determine if this is a viable and sustainable resource we can use for many centuries
to come.
Psychology is the science of the mind and behaviors as we interact with various concepts
in our own environment which also includes the use of newer technologies. These behaviors
form our personality which results in how we act and react. How we act and react to certain
environmental stimuli depends on what is meaningful. For example, if a person was told that the
economy would never rebound and that person did not have any interest in the conversation, he
or she would not dispute this. If this person did hold the economy in his or her high regards as
being able rebound, then that person would respond emotionally accordingly to his or her
Psychological Considerations of Solar Energy David Moore 30
Technological advances have always tried to solve problems or issues in the best means
necessary. Psychologically, these new technological inventions address the coping mechanism
of distress. As a result, we create many social disorders or illnesses and come up with new ways
of traditional coping. We have developed a new means of spirituality, encompassing and
embracing these new technological advancements which in turn cause us to ignore others while
focusing on ourselves including social groups and norms that we belong to. This new age
spiritualism is usually only found in upper to middle class people and has ignored the basic
principle of psychology in terms to responsibility. (2000).
Solar energy would be a more popular topic and readily used more if people knew more
about the concept. Humanistic psychology will alleviate the unknowns of solar based energy so
that more and more people will use it. Humanistic psychology looks at individuals as a whole
through their own self-image as well as their inner-feelings. Behaviors encompassed with
humanistic psychology are a reflection of experience, feelings, perception, as well as their needs
and especially a persons reaction to these stimulis. Solar energy will be a more constructive
resource if we learn more about it and realize our responsibility to the environment as well as
others around us will make our society more efficient and harmonious. (2000).
As we gain more insight into psychology and sociology, we can determine how to get a message
across to consumers in terms of solar panel energy as we know the factors that play into
influencing individuals and groups of individuals. Scientists need to first understand evolution
psychology. Like technology, psychology has evolved as well. Evolutionary psychology is the
psychology our ancestors used to survive and how this process has changed overtime. The
selection of a mate, protection, curiosity, communicating, our curiosity, status, as well as
forming our own social structure within groups has changed over time. Even our thought
Psychological Considerations of Solar Energy David Moore 31
process due to technological advances has changed our ways of reasoning and concepts about
our adaptation into our own environment because these technological advances have made life
simplistic and more efficient. When it comes to solar panel technologies, our behavior reflects
that of social influences (sociological factors) as well as our cognitive functions of this
technology or how it performs and creates less stress on our day-to-day lives. For example, solar
energy is more energy efficient, saving a business or local resident money on heat and electricity.
(2013). Why hasnt this adapted into a widely accepted technology that many people use?
Evolved psychology is broken down into the Four-Drive model which consists of the
drives to acquire, bond, defend, and learn. In order for humans to adapt to problems and change
their behavior, this model needs to be fully accepted so that solar panel energy will gain a wide
The drive to acquire is a mechanism in which we as humans take something that is
physical such as food, clothing, and memories. We then take control of it through ownership,
preserve it though taking care of it, and learn from it through past experiences and trial and error.
Survival during the Stone Age heavily relied on acquiring goods and materials. Because a
person was able to acquire goods, their social status increased, selecting a mate increased, as well
as reproducing which increased the population of the village or group. (2013).
Solar Energy has already represented the drive to acquire. We have the means necessary
to store energy from the suns rays to power electricity and a form of warmth for our businesses
and houses. We have learned and still continue through trial-and-error to make solar panel
energy more efficient through retaining more energy as well as physically more appeasing
(smaller panels that blend in with housing roofs).
Psychological Considerations of Solar Energy David Moore 32
The drive to bond is responsible for social relationships as well as common caring
affiliations with one another. Our ancestors relied heavily on bonding due to strength in numbers
for survivability. This created mutual bonds, friendships, trusts, and succeeded in those who
were off on their own in regards to survival capabilities. (2013).
People who use solar energy might tend to bond with others that use this type of
technology as they may feel important in regards to doing something meaningful for the direct
success or accomplishment of the environment as a cleaner alternative. As a result, these groups
of people may branch out and create more people willing to convert into this new means of
energy extraction. Companies who produce solar panel energy will also be able to bond more
efficiently with consumers as it is a trusted viable source of energy.
The drive to defend is another survivability adaption we use to defend ourselves or others
as well as our values, beliefs, and morals when threatened. As a threat to any of these
possessions, self, others, and thoughts are heightened, our reactions are heightened as well.
Solar panel manufactures as of any new technology manufacturer will always have to
protect themselves from liabilities Documentation needs to be carefully read by the consumer as
well as carefully prepared for the company manufacturing the technology. If the risks of creating
and building a solar panel energy source are low, then the consumers need to defend will also be
Finally the drive to learn is the psychological aspect that compels an individual to harness
knowledge through gathering data, knowing the situation, examining what needs to be done,
learning about the data gathered, and make a decision based on their own assessment. This
Psychological Considerations of Solar Energy David Moore 33
psychological adaptation requires the fulfillment of a need or want in regards to curiosity,
solution to a problem (well-being), and being consistent within the norms of reasoning. (2013).
This one category in the Four-Drive model is probably the most disconnected in terms of why
solar energy is not being purchased more readily. Because solar energy is not being researched,
taught, it looks different (negative social impact), as well as readily materials to research cost
expenses, solar energy cannot be a catalyst for this area if an individual is not interested in this
topic. (2013).
Social stresses are critical in the life, development, and longevity of any technological
advances in terms of the consumer. Consumer behavior needs to be influenced through the pros
and cons as well as the need for consumers and producers embracing a new product. A useful
means for more consumers to be aware of solar panel energy and use this technology is to
combine social, natural, and applied sciences. By adhering to this process, the public will have
fewer complications towards the norm of acceptance as a society.
The economy is recovering since its previous downfall. With the economy recovering,
our psychological well-being is also hopeful and optimistic to what our economy will bring. As
consumers, we will learn from the previous mishaps and invest our money in savings as well as
future investments. Business will become more environmental friendly, paving the way for
customer relationships as well as environmental clean-up becoming a big economic opportunity.
By using solar power energy and renewable resources, other older technologies need to
advance as well just to keep up. These newer technologies will not just create new jobs, but the
Psychological Considerations of Solar Energy David Moore 34
renewable resources we will be able to have will keep getting lower in costs. As a result, our
economy will boom. (1992).
The social factor applies the behavior of decisions based on a consumers response.
Since the majority of Americans do not own solar panel technology, the social factor of owning
one is isolated. We can change the behavior of consumers through understanding the attitude
towards a specific behavior as well as social setting norm behaviors. For example, what would
be the attitude of those who use solar panel technology as well as the social norms that would be
created as a result? (2008).
Social norms can change a persons behavior and thought process on the use of solar
panel energy by being in a group that accepts this is an acceptable norm of society. The attitudes
of individuals are expressed through evaluations of anothers acts. For example, if a few
neighbors were to purchase solar panels to be displayed on their roof-tops, the consensus of those
driving by to visually see these panels would lead to the assumption that solar panels are a norm
in that neighborhood as well as those who have displayed this technology would welcome other
consumers to make similar purchases. (2008).
Social groups are ways for us to judge behavioral actions, gain information, and interpret
this information to make our own perception of the realities of the topics being discussed.
Factors that are decisive to an individual include the people whom we are obtaining our
information. In order to change or make a decision based on attaining this information, the
person giving the information needs to be informative, respected, admired, same generation, and
Psychological Considerations of Solar Energy David Moore 35
Solar energy can influence behavior in two ways. One way is many solar panels in a
neighborhood, giving us the inference of the norm that the sun is always shining more in that
particular area. This may be untrue, but due to social acceptance, others in that area may
purchase solar panels as a means of acceptance in society. (2008).
When communicating the good with solar panel energy to influence other would be
consumers to purchase this technology, it might not be wise to tell them how widespread electric
consumption has become. This is because the wide spread electric consumption of non-solar
energy is the social norm. People may believe that they do not need to change to solar panel due
to the descriptive norm which is to use more energy. However, the means of the verbal or
written context trying to persuade individuals depends on motivation as well as the ability to
think clearly. If there is a lack of motivation or a lack of being able to think carefully, the
attitudes associated with a certain topic lacks argumentative quality. When there is motivation or
the ability to think clearly on a certain topic then the argumentative quality can have
substantiated effects, especially if the listener does not respect the speaker or they might even
agree with certain subjects due to having respect or admiration towards the speaker. The more
ambivalent a person is (sees both sides of an argument) the more careful research and thinking
goes on about the topic. (2008).
Incentives can play a big factor in our psychological in discerning our persuasion that
reflects on our actions and behaviors; knowledge of various degrees solar energy including cost,
sunlight, and the cost of building solar panel energy for local and business use can be a useful
strategy to persuade an individual.
Psychological Considerations of Solar Energy David Moore 36
Future as well as present costs of solar power energy have decreased dramatically and
will continue to do so as technological advances expand in this department. When solar panel
energy is used, it can counterbalance the price of using electricity which can be used to persuade
potential consumers. By researching the average electricity usage of areas within the United
States, the Average Information Administration is a website that shows the electricity rate,
however, these actual rates vary due to the time of day. The Energy Information
Administrations outlook for the future forecasts an annual cost increase of electricity of 1.6%
per year through 2035. (2011).
The actual cost of solar panels has also decreased recently due to photovoltaic panels
made of numerous silicon solar cells that convert the suns rays into energy has been more
available to the public. Of course, the price of setting these solar panels up in residential and
company areas along with geographic locations can vary. In 2010, these systems fell by 40%
according to the Solar Energy Industry Association. (2011).
There are a variety of incentives a solar panel owner can take advantage of. If a business
uses solar panel energy, they may receive an energy credit of 30% under the Internal Revenue
Tax Code 48. This energy credit expires at the end-of-year 2016. There is also a state tax credit,
grants, as well as rebates which vary by state. The local state government and local utility
companies will offer an up-front payment to cut the initial costs consumers will face at the start-
up installation costs.
Many geographical locations receive different amounts of sunlight for energy. Some
customers in geographical locations that produce very little solar energy still save on their
electrical costs due to utility companies acquiring extra solar energy that is connected to the
Psychological Considerations of Solar Energy David Moore 37
utility grid. The utility grid is the middle-man that can transfer this extra solar energy in the
form of electricity to other consumers less fortunate of harnessing this energy. The National
Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) provides annual and month-by-month information on the
amount of sunlight for 239 areas in the United States. (2011).
The maintained for solar panels is minimal and is very durable. Manufactures have
warranties for solar panels in which the energy harnessed is at least 80% capacity in the time
span of 20 to 25 years. (2011).
Unstainable resources are a very hard thing to give up when a new technology presents
itself. Psychological and sociological factors contribute towards the choices we make as
individuals to do what is right or wrong based on our own interests and the interests of social
norms we belong to. Social, political, and economical factors need to be highly considered when
making these decisions along with incentives of buying into solar energy. Proactive attitudes
along with acceptance of the masses as a result in social psychology should be strong enough to
influence these behaviors.

Cultural and Media Influences on Solar Energy Richard Mesny 38
Solar energy is still new, and growing, making its way into our lives in subtle but
influential ways. Most people that are accustomed to using electricity are used to power lines
running down our streets, wires connecting to our houses and essentially our societies being
connected to a grid. This is the norm, solar energy is the new. As with all things that happen on
a large scale, the media helps to influence decisions made by the average people, and this is
where solar energy will really begin to grow and blossom.
The planet is currently headed in a bad direction, and humans are spearheading this
direction in ways we cannot until recently really help but to do. Fossil fuels are the biggest
contributor to our current energy needs and as well as almost all emissions that humans are
outputting into Earths atmosphere. A change is coming though, and solar energy, clean energy
is that change. By utilizing the suns rays we can harness its energy to power our homes, our cars
and even more. The biggest contributors to this are the average people roaming around the Earth;
this does not depend on all of the rich or poor, but the average person.
Solar energy works off of our current grid systems, in terms of credits to our accounts.
During the day the sun shines down on the panels we own and in turn powers the grid, while at
night we feed off of the power we saved during the day. This allows humans to require less
energy from coal and oil electrical power plants and instead be self-sustaining. In doing this it is
helping our planet and in turn, getting a lot of hype from the media and citizens from all over the
Many studies have gone into just how to maximize the efficiency of solar panels and just
how to get people to want to use them. This can be seen both on TV and even from our own
government. Currently tax paying citizens are offered tax breaks for using solar panels, in turn
Cultural and Media Influences on Solar Energy Richard Mesny 39
saving them even more money than they originally may have thought. However money savings
are not the main reason people go into the solar energy market. Studies have found that the vast
majority of people that start using solar panels use them just because someone else near them
uses them. The researchers studied clusters of solar installations throughout California from
January 2001 to December 2011 and found that residents of a particular zip code are more likely
to install solar panels if they already exist in that zip code and on their street. (Garrett, 2012)
In using this knowledge the media and social networking sites are using it to their
advantage. Advocates for solar energy use these statistics to try and spread the word and use of
solar energy in your average residential area. When someone goes to install solar panels, they tell
their neighbors about it and its benefits. This in turn spreads to even more neighbors and family
members. However most of all this tends to spread out into the media and even bigger, the
Internet. Social media websites use information like this to get their points across, to attract even
more people and just to spread the word even further. So far studies have only been conducted in
specific zip codes, but there is evidence that an installation of solar panels increases the adoption
rate of others by almost 54 percent.
Perhaps a bigger reason people so observingly take to adopting solar panels is because
when they see them, they can see how unobtrusive they are. This is true in almost all cases in
residential lots and businesses, however there is also a media backlash, as with most things you
can find on the news. There are solar farms, these areas compose of almost entirely solar panels
and they act as a power planet. Absorbing the suns rays during the day and storing this power
for use at night. In these ways solar energy is still hurting our environment, and as with all things
that hurt our environment the media can also help to hinder the results.
Cultural and Media Influences on Solar Energy Richard Mesny 40
The biggest disturbance found in these solar farms is the amount of land they take up, and
in turn the amount of land that is otherwise disturbed for nature. The average solar farm needs up
to three times the amount of land that the average coal of oil power plant needs. So yes there are
drawbacks to using solar energy as well, and ways in which solar energy can be helped to grow it
also hinders. The media attack these types of environmental hazards, and in turn help to persuade
some people to dislike and never use solar panels. There is a sweet spot that needs to be reached
with solar panel development, and this is where social media comes in.
In using social media such as Facebook and Twitter, companies that install and support
solar panels and solar energy can help get the word out that it is not all bad. As was previously
stated, in a residential environment most solar panels do not even touch the ground; they are
installed on rooftops to get the most amount of sun during the day. These are the types of solar
panels that studies show to increase popularity and adoption of solar panels in a given zip code.
Another big contributor to the medias data is the price decline of solar energy panels, and
currently in the economy the United States is in, many more people are looking into saving
money than before.
As with all things in technology, they tend to fall in price as they become more abundant,
this fact can be seen with computers when they first began to be mass produced. Solar panels are
now starting to become mass produced and in turn lowering the installation and upkeep costs of
them, and this in turn allows social media to get a grip on the price point and draw more people
in to using them. Another benefit that the media has picked up on in our current economy is that
solar energy production and installation are creating hundreds of thousands of jobs across the
country. This actually stems out from the United States and solar energy is creating jobs all
across the world.
Cultural and Media Influences on Solar Energy Richard Mesny 41
According to the World Watch Institute's report Renewables 2005, more than 1.7
million direct jobs were created worldwide from renewable energy manufacturing, operations
and maintenance in 2004. (Pembina Institute, 2013) With the adoption rate of solar energy
increasing in more local areas this helps to spread jobs to otherwise very rural and outlying areas.
While the current amount of jobs is considered small scale, on a global scale it is enormous, and
the media is helping to fuel this by showing increased benefits other than just money savings and
environmental benefits. With the increase in jobs worldwide and more stable costs of
implementing solar panels social media can further spread the influence of solar power and
Many different media sources, mainly news programs and news websites, currently
contribute the most to the growth of the adoption of solar energy. These news companies must
keep working to help solar energy be adopted for now, and in this sense it the most important
thing for solar energy at the time being. Without the knowledge of the benefits of solar energy on
television and news websites many people would not know of the benefits or drawbacks to solar
energy, thus it would not be able to grow near as fast as it currently is. Now that solar energy has
more of a foothold in the publics eye it can fair better without as much media attention, but this
does not mean that the media should stop talking about it, and stop sharing the news across social
media websites. To gather the broad support needed from customers, investors, communities,
government agencies, and media to enable the sectors growth (SEIA)
Perhaps the biggest aspects that are now being reached in solar energy development are
those of human rights. Currently some humans have problems with seeing solar panels on their
neighbors roofs, or in business lots, and it can be considered dirty like trash. In the same way
that people can fight to have a neighbors lot cleaned up, they can fight against solar panels being
Cultural and Media Influences on Solar Energy Richard Mesny 42
visible. In accordance with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human
Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Participants are expected to operate with
respect for human rights and establish appropriate policies and processes to avoid infringement
on human rights through Participant operations or business relationships. (SEIA) This can also
affect certain safety restrictions that are placed on certain electrical companies, as solar energy
can also be unsafe in the same ways fossil fuel generated electricity can be.
The same laws that govern normal jobs must also be enforced in the solar energy
department as well; this includes but is not limited to child labor, forced work, unfair hours,
wages or benefits and more. So far no known problems have been reported to any media about
unfair acts in the solar energy development cycle, however this does not stop people, especially
on the social media, from starting and stirring up rumors. Perhaps one of the biggest drawbacks
to social media, and really anything trying to grow in todays economy, is that there will be
many lies and falsities created about it online. A bigger problem with this is the amount of
people social media can affect in such a very short amount of time, so in some ways the speed in
which social media spreads is good, but can also be detrimental to the production of solar energy
in our society.
This is combated by the more truth finding media, generally our news programs. While
they too will report on and take down problems in a new technology, they also report on facts
and use statistics. In talking about statistics it is important to note just why so many people are
currently switching to solar energy that the media reports on. Currently many Americans still
view solar as a solution to environmental woes rather than high utility bills. A September Solar
Energy Industries Association survey found that while 92% of Americans support solar, 66%
Cultural and Media Influences on Solar Energy Richard Mesny 43
believe its still too expensive. (Woody, 2013) This can directly be contributed to a social media
By talking more about environmental causes and benefits the media is unwillingly
brainwashing the public to thinking that solar energy is just a fix for the environment and that is
may still be expensive. This in turn is backlashed in poorer section of our country; poorer
residential areas show less solar energy usage because no one thinks it is worth the price of
installation. The fact is thanks in part to falling module prices; solar is today cost-competitive
with retail electricity rates in at least 20 states. (Woody, 2013) If the media also helped to report
on the costs rather than just the environmental problems it will help to open the door to that
many more potential customers of solar energy.
This brings back up a prior point about residents in a certain zip code having an increased
adoption rate when other residents install solar panels. If the less well-off residents of different
countries were informed better by the media about the prices of solar energy, these statistics
would drastically change. If a few people chose to install solar panels in our poorer
neighborhoods, more people there will adopt the panels and from there it will only spread
further. Still today many people believe solar energy is for the wealthier citizens and that it is not
fully necessary for everyone to adopt. So far the price benefits are limited to neighborhoods that
have installed these solar panels.
From a cultural perspective, this also plays a very important role in the adoption of solar
energy. It is found that many poorer countries in the world as a whole have not adopted solar
energy at all, countries like those of which are in the Middle East, where they could very easily
benefit from solar power. The facts about neighbors adopting things they see their neighbors
Cultural and Media Influences on Solar Energy Richard Mesny 44
do can also affect countries, and this is the largest scale in which solar energy can be adopted. If
a neighboring country were to adopt solar energy, its residents would see it more and in turn
residents from the neighboring countries will also see it. Currently this is being limited to world
news programs, of which rarely already do touch on solar energy development and installation.
This comes back down to the social media, specifically websites like Twitter.
The ease of posting and spreading the word on Twitter is unimaginable. For solar energy
to really get a kick start on a website such as Twitter, it must have someone that is well known
talk about it. From here all of the followers of that member will see it, and look into it. This
message will then be passed on through more friends and followers, quickly informing every one
of its benefits. Ultimately this also hinders solar energy, as was stated before many people use
false information over the Internet, and Twitter is no exception. If someone had a bad experience
or just feels like starting a rumor, they can easily lie or create false information about solar
energy that will turn just as many people away from it.
Universally it is found that we as a human race need to work together for something to
really blossom into its fullest potential. The same can be said for solar energy and its acceptance
on a global scale. As with all things ever created by man, those with the largest support had the
easiest time, generally making our lives easier while helping our society to grow. As soon as
more people realize solar energy is the next big technology that is going to do that, it will be able
to grow just as fast as any other growing technology. This starts culturally, socially, and on our
Perhaps one of the biggest things holding solar energy back is a cultural impact, and that
is a widespread fear that many of us have. Solar energy has the power to make our homes and
Cultural and Media Influences on Solar Energy Richard Mesny 45
businesses autonomous. This would mean that our current energy demands could be reduced to
zero. To take this even a step further we can implement smart power grids and energy stores to
make it so every home and business does not need external power. The first step to
accomplishing this is for the media to report on it.
As with all things they do come at a price, and currently that price is not optimized as
was just described. Solar energy and power is still messy and in turn is not at its best. In
addition to the aforementioned land usage that current solar farms create, there are more ways in
which solar energy is currently holding our societies back from fully adopting them. In certain
environments solar farms use central tower systems, typically conventional steam plants, to
generate electricity, which commonly consume water for cooling. In arid settings, any increase in
water demand can strain available water resources. (Information Center) This in turn can hurt
our arid environments and even potentially endanger some of the animals that require that water
at certain intervals.
These drawbacks are very real, and the social media makes that well known, in turn this
is why some countries that currently would be ideal candidates for solar energy, such as Iran and
Iraq, do not currently use it at all. Instead they rely on the old technologies of fossil fuels to
power their cities. Solar energy has already come a long way in terms of its development, but it
still has much more to go. Until fully functional panels that require nothing else are created,
many countries will not adopt solar energy. Consumer awareness may be the biggest challenge
solar energy is currently facing, and this is driven by our cultural demands and media influences
in our societies.
Cultural and Media Influences on Solar Energy Richard Mesny 46
To further grow into a more boisterous advantage, solar energy companies are taking the
fight right here in America, to our local and state governments, as well as our federal. Believe it
or not, the media and other residents cannot fully support solar energy until all laws and needs
required by solar energy are met by our governments. So far these have not been too problematic
here in America, however other countries are more hesitant. For solar to really grab the attention
of our poorer countries and convince other governments to adopt it, and allow it, they must be
willing to put people first, not the product.
Many unknown aspects of solar energy revert back to the environmental view, and that is
air quality. Currently the main problem with fossil fuels that the media gives so much attention
to is the carbon dioxide they expel into the atmosphere. Solar energy emits nothing back into the
air, creating a very clean breathing environment for both humans and local animals alike. When
taking all of the advantages into account, the media can help to expand this growing technology
into a bigger competitor in the electrical market. Perhaps the one thing that we do not think about
enough as a society is what the future holds for us if we keep going in the direction that we are
Our future generations, and the well-being of our planet should come first in our minds.
Solar energy helps to alleviate so many problems that our past generations created with fossil
fuel generated energy. Using renewable energy for as many uses as possible truly puts energy
production and use in our hands and turns families, businesses, farmers, communities and local
industries into owners and managers of their energy future. (Pembina Institute, 2013) By setting
our future generations up for success it both helps them and our planet, and further increases
research potential into even cleaner and better energy sources.
Environmental Implications of Solar Energy Andrea Pruitt 47
It is not right to think of solar energy as the end-all be-all, instead it is just a stepping
stone to an even greater discovery along the road. As with all discoveries, it requires the vast
majority of the human race to accept it and support it. This is where the cultural impact on solar
energy makes its biggest mark. Without our societies and our current ways of life, our current
media influences and our attraction to social media sites, it is very possible solar energy may
have never come to exist in the first place. Due to this, it is possible to say that our cultural
influences on solar energy and where it is going is the most important thing to happen to it.
Yes it is true that social media has hindered solar energy development and acceptance
quite a bit, but it is also true that even with these past hindrances it has also helped it to grow
faster than anything else before its time. The industry is quickly learning that the best and most
cost-effective sales channels are solars early adopters. Solar, after all, is often a highly visible
addition to homes or property, a natural conversation piece that sparks interest from neighbors
much like renovating the garage, installing new landscaping or buying an electric car. These
front lawn conversations are vital for spreading the word about the mechanics of installing solar
power as well as the economic payoff, from a trusted peer whos been there and can take solar
from fanciful to real. (Woody, 2013)
The only way solar energy will continue to grow, develop and overall get better is with
the help of our media influences. They helped to start the solar energy revolution, and it is on
them to continue the fight, to keep reporting on the problems and facts of solar energy, and in
turn help it grow. Eventually solar energy may be the only power source we use in the entire
world, it will be clean and it will set our future generations up for success down the road. We as
a human race are culturally ready for solar energy.
Environmental Implications of Solar Energy Andrea Pruitt 48
The total effect on the environment due to production of electricity by solar energy is
minimal. Solar energy is the most abundant natural resource available. It is clean, safe, quiet and
renewable. The energy directed at the earth by the sun in an hour can supply the global energy
demand for a year if we were to collect and transfer the energy into electricity. Our use of solar
energy as electricity is less than 1/10th of 1% of the global energy usage. The use of solar energy
will cause less demand on our non-renewable resources. With the current advancements in
technology and research and development (R&D) using the more plentiful elements, the cost of
production of electricity using solar energy will continue to drop. The increased use in solar
energy will allow a drop in pollutants. There are a few drawbacks to solar energy usage that are
only slightly comparative to that of non-renewable resources.
The impact of solar energy production on the land is minimal. Some would feel that it
causes a loss of habitat of endangered wildlife. The fact is that it may cause some relief to
species in the desert areas by providing some shade to distressed animals. Environmentalists
fought the Alaskan oil line through Caribou migrating lands. In the end the oil pipeline was
shown to help the animals by providing a wind barrier in the winter months and shade during the
warmer months. (Lovich 2011). The land that is best for the production of solar energy is in the
deserts around the world. The deserts in the United States have many endangered and threatened
species of animals. The US Endangered Species Act may limit the land available for solar energy
production. There is a very public confrontation in Nevada between a rancher whose family has
been on the land for over 140 years, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The BLM is
claiming they are protecting the desert tortoise, an animal protected by the US Endangered
Species Act. The land has been designated recently for a Chinese venture in Solar Energy
production put together by the Nevada Senator Reid. There has been a recent change in the
Environmental Implications of Solar Energy Andrea Pruitt 49
boundaries that protect the tortoise to accommodate the property being purchased by the Chinese
power company ENN. The sad reality of the BLM protection of the tortoise and land is the land
is being sold to the Chinese and the tortoise is being euthanized. There is approximately 8
million hectares available as possible sites for large scale solar energy production. This is public
lands and a solar energy production site that is a desirable property in the Solar Energy Zone
A test site in
Boulder Colorado is
being studied to
evaluate the effect of
solar energy mass production sights on the land. There is a
solar production site similar to the one proposed by the ENN
in southern Nevada. There is limited peer reviewed papers
of the effect of solar energy due in part to a lack of desire to
pursue greener energy supplies. Solar energy remains expensive to produce due in part to the rare
earth elements used in production of solar energy. The global desire to find renewable, green
energy has sparked the drive toward more studies of solar energy and its effects on the
Solar energy production is able to make use of less desirable land and be placed on
rooftops. Large production facilities can be established on mining areas that have been deserted.
Other degraded lands that are available for solar facilities might include old industrial sights,
transportation and wire transmission clearance ways. Rooftops can be used for collection of solar
Annual global mean downward solar radiation
Environmental Implications of Solar Energy Andrea Pruitt 50
energy. Some rooftops are limited due location, shade and use by people and animals. A small
area is all that is needed to collect a sizable amount of energy. We could save ourselves money
over the long run if we invest in a home solar energy system. Some states such as California
require new construction to have a solar energy system.
There is no water used in the production of energy by solar power. Water is however
required for the cooling of the system, cleaning and production of the components used in the
production of energy using solar power. Recirculating water causes the highest amount of water
waste due to evaporation. Continuous single use flow has less use of water than recirculating due
to no or less evaporation during cooling. During planning and building of the solar energy
facility water supply will need to be considered. Most of the better locations for solar facilities
are in the SEZ where there is not normally an abundant water supply for cooling. There is dry
cooling of the system but this is not effective in cooling well enough to preserve energy
production. There is the possibility of water contamination which will be explored in component
production environmental hazards later in this paper.
Vapors and dust contaminate the air. Hazardous materials are used for cleansing the
semiconductor surfaces. The risk of inhalation by workers cleaning the surface is high. Care has
to be given to protecting them from harm. Animals may also be affected by inhaling the fumes
from these hazardous materials such as hydrochloric acid and other hazmat acidic compounds.
Some of the solar collectors are made of silicon which may also be inhaled by workers. Silicon is
a metalloid that causes harm to the lungs and is absorbed into the blood stream. These chemicals
must be disposed of properly and not allowed to contaminate the land or water supply.
Photovoltaic (PV) cells are manufactured by using highly toxic materials. They are composed of
Environmental Implications of Solar Energy Andrea Pruitt 51
rare and valuable elements. These materials are required to be disposed of properly by law. Also
the solar manufacturer has the incentive to recycle these materials because of their high value.
China banned the export of Rare Earth Elements (REE) to Japan, the United States (US)
and the United Kingdom (UK). The US had closed its REE mining operation at Mountain Pass,
California. This mine had once supplied the US with 100% of its REE requirements and a large
percentage of global supply also. China was supplying 97%+ of the global supply when it
banned export. The cost of REE inflated 200 times after the close of the US mine. The US and
other nations demand for REE for the production of electronics and renewable energy
components allowed the Chinese to have a strangle hold on REE supply. The US is developing
new mining of REE and opening the Mountain Pass mine. There is global interest and
development of new mining of REE and use of more plentiful elements that have similar
properties and produce similar results. Mining and recycling of REE and Silicon have a negative
effect on our environment. Mining to magnets and components used for energy production takes
many steps. These steps are where the production of clean energy gets a little dirty.

Mountain Pass Mine, California
The Mountain Pass mine stopped its open pit mining of REE in part due to contamination
of the desert along a 14 mile pipeline the mine used to move contaminated water to
Environmental Implications of Solar Energy Andrea Pruitt 52
decontamination ponds. There were 60 or more leaks pouring hundreds of thousands of
radioactive and contaminated water onto the surrounding desert. The open mining operation also
allows toxic dust to enter the air currents carrying contaminants miles away. The Mountain Pass
mine has recently passed many inspections and will mine REE allowing the US and other nations
to not be dependent on China for REE.
Production of components used to produce solar energy requires extracting the REE from
usually radioactive ore. Pyro metallurgy, hydrometallurgy and electrometallurgy are some
processes used. Hydrometallurgy uses acids in the extraction process. When not properly
contained, the waste water will contaminate the water supply as it did with the Mountain Pass
pipeline. Acids are used in both mining and recycling of REE. Tailings from producing the
components are recycled There are new extraction processes in various stages of research and
development. Dry processing using hydrogen gas to separate the ore is one of the newer
Silicon is the most abundant element next to oxygen. Nearly 28% of the Earths crust is
composed of silicon. It is a metalloid that is used in numerous materials for a wide range of tasks
from construction to components in defense and solar energy collection. To build components
for solar energy production requires highly refined silicon. Pyro metallurgy is one process of
many that produces highly refined silicon. Silicon dust is dangerous to humans and animals.
Production of refined silicon has negative environmental implications concerning air, land and
water contamination.
Japan is leading in the recycle of REE globally. Many states in the US (25+) require
electronics to be recycled due to the REE and hazardous materials in the components. The
Environmental Implications of Solar Energy Andrea Pruitt 53
recycling process has many hazards to the worker separating the elements and the environment.
Recycling only produces a small percentage of the REE supply. Recycling components of energy
production requires hazardous material management. The process releases mercury, lead, metals
and flame retardant resins.
Contamination of the environment by humans began with smoke from the first camp fire.
During the Roman times contamination increased from lead being leached into the water supply
and land. Large scale, serious environmental damage may occur due to failure of run-off
containment structures. This contamination may be due to failure in construction or by natural
disaster. The key to ensuring the environment has limited contamination by production or mining
of materials needed for the components of solar energy production is having the right design,
operation and management of the toxic control systems. The containment and disposal of the
toxic emissions start with the design of a well thought out and tested site. Quality controls have
to be in place and adhered to during construction and operation of the containment units. The
management does not need to be easily swayed from taking care of the site and cutting corners to
save money. The environment and the workers suffer the ill effects when this is allowed to
Long term global warming emissions are minimal. There are no gas emissions during the
solar energy production process. The only gas emission that can be associated with solar energy
production would be during the manufacture or dismantling of the facility components and
transportation or maintenance to the facility. The estimated carbon dioxide emissions per
kilowatt hour of solar energy production are less than 0.2 pounds. Compared to emissions during
production using natural gas (estimated at 2.0 lbs/kWh) and Coal (est. 1.0 to 3.6 lbs/kWh) solar
energy is extremely clean.
Environmental Implications of Solar Energy Andrea Pruitt 54
There may be unknown effects of solar energy production. Currently there are not many
peer reviewed documents concerning the effects on our environment. The United States
government has and will continue to finance research and implementation of green energies.
There has been a higher demand for green energy due to global warming and the limited supply
of fossil fuels. This is driving the documentation of research which is helping in the placement of
solar energy facilities. There is little documentation that is not a repeat of the same findings of
documents written before. Many nations including Japan and Europe are searching for more
economical means of manufacturing components of solar energy. Rare and toxic elements are
required at this time in the production of solar cells. We are documenting research in applying
the use of more plentiful components to the manufacture of solar cells. There has been very
limited success.
The unknown long term effects may include burning holes in the atmosphere similar to
the holes now created by emissions due to the reflection of multiple, mass solar energy
production fields. The United States government has determined that over 8 million acres may be
used for solar energy facilities. There is now approximately 30% of solar irradiation reflected
back into space. If we were to cover 8 million acres with reflective solar panels we might burn a
hole in our atmosphere. This area is what the United States deems available for solar energy.
Global production at similar quantities would hypothetically create quite a reflection. Would this
cause global cooling? Would this cause
warming to the point of causing the earth to
become inhospitable like Mars? The reflection
could also cause blinding to birds and pilots
flying over the solar energy production fields.
Environmental Implications of Solar Energy Andrea Pruitt 55
There is documentation that pilots are complaining of the reflection off of large solar energy
facilities. In the conflict between the BLM and the Nevada rancher have brought some of these
complaints to light. There will have to be changes in approaches, departures and the flight paths
of the aircraft in these areas. The solar production site in southern Nevada is located close to Las
Vegas where there are approximately 500,000 flights annually.
There are those that believe that the global warming today is a natural recurrence over
millennia. There has been enough ash from large volcanic eruptions blown into the atmosphere
to cause an ice age. There will be drastic climate changes due to natural and mankind caused
pollutants. Ranchers are grazing cattle on the Russian tundra. It was believed that there had never
been grazing in this area, but bones of cattle have been found. The earth needs refreshing now
and again. Large natural, or in our case, manmade disasters are needed for these changes to
Research and development of green energy has shown some anomalies in the theoretical
findings because of the greenhouse effect. There is a 15 degree difference in the expected
warming. We are not warming but in fact have all but stopped warming. Plants flourish in a high
Co2 environment. In controlled studies genetically identical plants have been studied. One set of
the trees were planted in a Co2 rich environment while the others were planted in the natural
environment. The trees in the controlled environment were up to 85% larger than those in the
natural environment. (Ballonoff, 2014)
Solar energy production will cause a large reduction in fossil fuel usage if we are able to
use it on a large scale. The use of solar energy is cost prohibitive. If we are to make great use of
solar energy there will have to be new materials found that have the quality conductive
Environmental Implications of Solar Energy Andrea Pruitt 56
properties of the rare elements currently used. Solar energy will give us the opportunity to save
our natural resources if we choose to limit their harvest or destruction. There will be less
pollution when we use solar energy as our main energy source.

Moral and Ethical Implications of Solar Energy Trina Neil 57 57
Solar Energy in essence is ecological green energy, which is used to protect our economy
and the environment. Solar energy was first developed for energy for orbiting earth satellite;
throughout recent years, Solar Energy has expanded for our domestic, business and industrial
needs. Collecting sunlight and converting it into electricity is what produces solar power. This
solar power is used as solar energy sources, which include solar panels and wind turbines. In
addition, to the environmental, moral, ethical, health, economic and financial benefits associated
with using solar energy, another benefit is of national security. Many scientists and governmental
agents believe that Americas dependence on foreign energy that of fossil fuel is having a major
impact and a potential threat to the national security and freedom that we all enjoy today.
Solar energy can be generally divided into two categories such as active or passive solar
energy but it depends on how they are secured and used. In active solar energy specific solar
heating equipment is used to convert solar energy into heat energy while, passive solar energy is
more of the mechanical equipment is not present. Solar Energy that is Active includes the use of
mechanical equipment like solar thermal collectors. With Passive solar energy technology, it
converts solar energy to heat energy with no active mechanic systems. It uses windows, walls,
trees, building placement and other simple methods to catch or repel the sun. A great way to
conserve energy meanwhile maximizing its uses is through the use of Passive solar energy. A
prime example of Passive energy is what your car seats feel like while parked outside on a hot
summer day. (Solarenergyworks, 2013)
Humanity has always used different forms of fossil fuels in order to produce energy. Not
until the last few years have citizens seriously use and converse about using a different source for
energy. Citizens across the world understand that the amount of fossil fuel on earth is running
Moral and Ethical Implications of Solar Energy Trina Neil 58 58
out and is limited, but regardless of its supply studies show the many health risks to humans and
the earth that we call home. It is necessary to develop a way of altering other elements into
available forms of energy. The most achievable and practical of these elements is from the power
of the sun. It is important as citizens from any nation to concentrate on solar energy education
and make sure it is economical for all to afford. In order to not depend on foreign fossil fuel all
of humanity should understand the advantages of solar energy. In addition, we do not want to
become energy deficient in certain areas where solar energy wasnt implemented.
Unfortunately, solar energy isnt widely accessible nor is most American citizens familiar
with its purpose and concept. President Obama spoke of, creating 5 million new jobs in
renewable energy and nearly tripling the percentage of the nations electricity supplied by
renewables by 2025. (Parker, 2013) President Obama is actively pushing the U.S. to ensure that
solar energy is affordable for all. Education professionals are striving to create a curriculum in
schools as early as elementary school, to educate all students of technological advances through
the use of a natural source, (the sun) as a main source of energy for our everyday survival.
(Parker, 2013)
Co-founder of Method green products Mr. Lowry explains: "What's the point of
building a world-class sustainable manufacturing facility if it's not also contributing positively to
the community around it and helping to revitalize an urban environment?" Lowry, 39, says he
wanted to create an example for "what manufacturing and urban renewal can look like in the 21st
century." (, 2014). What really are the moral and ethical implications of using solar
power? Is going green really ethical? Is it beneficial to American citizens? What the Method
green company is building in Chicagos south side low in-come Pullman area can demonstrate
Moral and Ethical Implications of Solar Energy Trina Neil 59 59
the answer to the above questions. George Pullmans legacy remains and was remembered and
inspiring to the Method team. In the 1880s George Pullman, developed Chicagos south-side
area (now called the Pullman area) as the first industrial community in the United States. With
this rich and cultural history theres no wonder why Method would choose this area for their
first manufacturing facility.
Solar Power will protect the economy and the environment while not adding to global
warming, vast violent weather changes such as acid rain and smog. The current problems of
climate change, air pollution, and energy insecurity are due primarily to the combustion of fossil
fuels mainly coal, oil, and natural gas. The burning of fossil fuels is largely responsible for the
problems of climate change, air pollution, and energy insecurity. A combination of wind, water,
and solar power is the best alternative to fossil fuels. (Hayes, 2009). Solar Energy sources have
nearly zero and/or very low emissions of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants, no long-term
waste disposal difficulties, and no risks of disastrous accidents. Compared with nuclear energy
and biomass energy, wind, water, and solar power, alone, would not only be advantageous but
also feasible to meet 100 percent of the worlds energy needs. Renewable energy systems can be
designed and operated to ensure that power generation reliably matches demand; these energy
sources would cost less than fossil fuels when all costs to society are considered; and policies for
easing the transition to energy systems should be based entirely on wind, water, and solar
power. (Delucchi, 2013).
Global warming is a major concern for every nation worldwide; it is a concern that
cannot simply be put on the back burner. It is a pertinent relevant issue and there is a need for
urgent solutions and preventative measures. Economics and finances is a main concern when
Moral and Ethical Implications of Solar Energy Trina Neil 60 60
solar energy and other green issues come up however, this is an issue that is not simply an
economic issue but an ethical one. The main benefit of solar energy that it can be easily
deployed by both home and business users as it does not require any huge set up like in case of
wind and geothermal power stations. Solar energy not only benefits individual owners, but also
benefit environment as well. (Jones, 2009) The potential risk in the years to come to our planet
due to the rapid and increasing climate changes have and will affect life and freedom as we know
it today in a detrimental way. The need for energy usage changes along with radical actions is
crucial. (Jones, 2009)
In reference to recent studies, by the year 2050 almost one fourth of the world is
projected to use solar energy. Out of the total supply, 11 percent of the solar energy is predicted
to be used through the solar panel for the domestic purposes, offices and so on and the other 11
percent will be used by central solar power station to provide electricity in the populated areas.
(Hayes, 2009) The report also showed that solar energy currently is only using 0.5 percent of a
total electricity supply. Solar energy will be very useful in generating clean by cutting down on
carbon emissions. Many skeptics are concerned about the costs of solar energy verses the costs
of fossil fuel. Some say that although many citizens know that that solar energy is a cleaner form
of energy, most are more concerned with the over-head and monthly costs associated with solar
energy. Scientists records show that the average temperature of the Earth has changed
tremendously in the last few years, due to global warming areas of the world where it is usually
extremely cold like the South Pole is warming up. The importance of solar energy is more
valuable than of energy by fuel today, because the earth and climate is literally at risk. (,
Moral and Ethical Implications of Solar Energy Trina Neil 61 61
Solar Energy is usually discussed areas of science, politics, and technology however; it
has become a major topic of discussion in religious congregations in reference to the ethics and
moral implications of using clean energy. Many religious groups have met with their local
congressman and have written their senators about using green energy in their communities to
cut down on pollution especially in inner cities across the Unites States. The Religion in an Age
of Science Institute has addressed the clean energy subject at many conferences around the US
and they will be holding their 59
summer conference this year. The attention of the conference
was given to ethical and religious perspectives that can be used to guide future energy choices
and energy choices that, in turn, might challenge ethical and religious perspectives. (Parker,
2013) This conference has brought a significant amount of attention to choosing green energy as
our main source of energy as being a moral and ethical responsibility. Californias dirty air
caused more than $193 million in hospital-based medical care from 2005 to 2007 as people
sought help for problems such as asthma and pneumonia that are triggered by elevated pollution
levelsexposure to excessive levels of ozone and particulate pollution caused nearly 30,000
emergency room visits and hospital admissions over the study period. Public insurance programs
were responsible for most of the costs, with Medicare and Medi-Cal covering more than two-
thirds of the expenses. (getsolar, 2013).
Implementing the use solar energy will improve health risks of those in poor urban areas
where the air quality is the worst. Legislators and Religious Leaders must sit together to save and
improve the health of all of its citizens no matter what background or community they live in.
Gladly, the US has enacted the Clean Air Act through the USDA, which will provide additional
funds and grants for solar energy projects in especially lower income areas. (Delucchi, 2013)
Moral and Ethical Implications of Solar Energy Trina Neil 62 62
Solar Energy is pollution and utility free, which will not release greenhouse gases that
have contributed to our current global warming issue. Many citizens are concerned about wasting
land and taking land from free-range grazing animals and crops with the installation of wind
turbines. However, solar power will not use a large area of land space for its installation and
further usage. It is good to remember that even if this was the case the ethical issues involved
with the use of clean energy out-ways those arguments. The ethical and moral issues of whether
to or not use solar power is undeniably the right choice to make for our economy and the well-
being of our planet. (Jones, 2009)
Scientists have made plans to try to get the same pattern of the glass of solar panels.
Scientists hope that this will increase the energy produced by solar panels. It might also eliminate
the need for the expensive tracking programs, which are required to keep solar panels pointed in
the direction of sun. Solar panels will mean less fossil fuel use and, thus, less pollution is the
main goal in order to reduce the causes of global warming and other climate changes alike. The
discovery of Solar Energy helps one to value that nature is a conclusive measure of luminous
designs and discoveries just waiting to be found, understood and, where possible, copied in
useful ways. Many energy sources are being tapped however, some of which have been used for
decades. Among those that are renewable or can be replenished quickly are the following types:
solar, wind, wave, hydroelectric, and ocean thermal. (Hayes, 2009). In addition, the installation
of solar panels is fairly simple for most construction workers and crews. The installation of solar
panels does not require and power sources or outlets such as power cords and wirers. Geothermal
and wind power stations all require drilling machinery however, solar panels does not require
this but can be installed on rooftops meaning that no extra space is needed to generate electricity
Moral and Ethical Implications of Solar Energy Trina Neil 63 63
inside of your home or business. In addition, solar panels can be conveniently installed in a way
where no large significant installations are needed.
Solar Energy does not require any fuel including fossil fuel to operate. Therefore, solar
energy is not polluting, its actually a very clean source of energy if not the cleanest. Solar
energy is both reliable and renewable source of electricity. It will not add to our global warming
issue by releasing harmful toxins in the atmosphere such as carbon dioxide, sulfur oxide and
nitrogen oxide. Research conducted my hundreds of Scientist around the globe all equally agree
that fossil fuel is one of the leading causes of global warming. Solar Energy does not require any
fuels particularly fossil fuel in order to operate. Thus, using solar energy helps avoid adding
harmful fumes into our atmosphere in addition, avoids the issues of fuel storage and radioactive
waste and oil spills. (Brown, 2013).
Solar Energy is can be free everywhere for everyone because there are no on-going costs
and fees for the power except for the initial built and maintenance. The cost of photovoltaic
power is dropping rapidly, and if the photovoltaic industry continues to grow and improve
technologically, by 2020 the cost will be comparable to the cost of conventional power, as will
the cost of solar thermal power. Within a decade, the private cost of all major wind, water, and
solar- power technologies will be less than 9 cents per kilowatt-hour and less than the private
cost of new fossil-fuel generation. (Delucchi, 2013) The usual fossil-fuel power and the
supplementary costs are directly related to the projected worth of the injuries to human health,
economic systems, and ecosystems from air pollution and climate change. (Delucchi, 2013)
Thus, within a decade, the total social cost of reliably delivered wind, water, and solar power is
likely to be on the order of 11 cents per kilowatt- hour or less. (Delucchi, 2013)
Moral and Ethical Implications of Solar Energy Trina Neil 64 64
From 2004-2006 there was a 17% increase in electricity rates, these rates reflect an
increase in fossil fuel costs reflected therefore; during that phase the typical fossil fuel prices for
electricity generation increased by 30.2%. (Hayes, 2009) In 2009, Austin Energy agreed to pay
16.5 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for electricity from a solar power plant. About 5 years later,
Austin Energy, will be paying less than 5 cents per kWh for electricity from two of new solar
power plants. In other words, Austin Energy could have very well paid 7 cents per kWh for
electricity from a natural gas power source or plant, 10 cents from a coal plant and 13 cents from
a nuclear power plant. These numbers simply shows in this era that solar power will be more cost
efficient unlike coal and nuclear plants. Research showed that just five years later Austin energy
will pay less than 5 cents per kWh for electricity by just using a couple of solar energy plants,
this was a tremendous amount of savings per year.
With all the numerous benefits of using solar energy as our main source of energy while
reducing greenhouse gas emissions it is essential that the citizens of America and all over the
world understand exactly what solar energy is and its benefits. Solar energy is a renewable
source of energy and will continue to produce electricity as long as sun exists. Although solar
energy cannot be produce during night and cloudy days but it can be used again and again during
daytime. Solar energy from sun is consistent and constant power source and can be used to
harness power in remote locations. (Brown, 2013). Helping Americans see and feel the need to
stop using fossil fuel especially from foreign countries/overseas will provide America with a
great return of investment. Providing more green jobs across America while lowering energy
costs will in turn help the American deficit. This in turn can be an example for countries
worldwide. The production of green jobs and green manufacturing companies like the new
Method manufacturing factory opening up in early 2015 on Chicagos south-side will help
Moral and Ethical Implications of Solar Energy Trina Neil 65 65
Americas economy and lower and middle income families get back into the job market.
Eventually, as a nation, hundreds of billion dollars of revenue will be saved each year as a result
of solely using solar energy. (, 2014)
Solar Energy is set to play a large role in the future to come, there are many
developments of which have not been released to the public yet of way to implement and use
solar energy in a cost efficient way. Studies show that by the year 2025 the Solar Power industry
aims to provide at least half of the US with all solar energy. Solar energy being clean energy and
carbon free offsets 100 % of the carbon-fueled energy that will go into the manufacturing and
distribution. In addition, more scientist and architects are recognizing the future value of active
and passive solar power and trying to learn more ways to effectively establish it into buildings
designs across the world. Shell has predicted that 50% of the worlds energy will come from
renewable sources by 2040. In recent years manufacturing costs of photovoltaic cells has
dropped by 3-5% per year while government subsidies have increased. (
The United States has already invested millions of dollars into the solar power industry; Sates
such as California and Colorado are among the first most active states using solar energy. Many
other sates however, have made a strong effort in implementing solar energy education into their
city and state school curriculums. (
In addition, many third-world countries have already begun to use solar energy to power
small medical clinics a hybrid solar power system is used to provide power to small medical
clinics in villages in India and Africa. During sunny days using solar energy is easily distributed
and during the night, cloudy and rainy days back generator are used. Many scientists in South
Africa have discovered numerous types of different solar panels then the silicon ones that are
Moral and Ethical Implications of Solar Energy Trina Neil 66 66
normally used. Thus, using solar energy is more cost efficient with the same results providing
adequate healthcare to the people in these towns and villages. Using solar energy will help Africa
and many other countries make great strides to provide clean energy while protecting its citizens,
animals, vast rain forests and the environment. (, 2014)
With the high prices for oil and the ever-growing concern for the environment,
implementing green in energy in businesses has growing numbers. Many small business owners
will and have received tax deductions and grants from the government if they opt to use any sort
of green energy to run their business.
Solar Energy technology is constantly changing and evolving, its improvements are
consistently lowering household energy bills throughout the country by millions of dollars each
year. As the whole world join in and work together to educate its citizens of the importance of
using solar energy is an and not just rely on fossil fuel will have a substantial effect on lowering
government debt on a global scale. Solar Energy will change the lives of millions around the
world now and for the future generations to come. Millions across the planet through the use of
solar energy will live a cleaner and longer life by not continuing to add to global warming and
other climate change issues. Using solar energy is not just an economical issue but creating clean
and sustainable green energy is an ethical and moral right.

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