Putting the sun to work for us by producing energy is catching on around the globe.
Insolation map The amount of available sunlight; called solar irradiance.
earth England Solar
  Home in northern England with ten solar panels on the roof, 2011.
home etoile Radiant energy from the sun (radiation) comes in a variety of forms depending on the emitted wavelength. The diagram above shows how electricity is generated by sunlight in what is technically called a photovoltaic system or PV installation. You might call PV the working unit solar electric panels that are linked modules made up of solar cells.
Home in southern Germany with nine solar arrays on the roof, 2002.
    Solar electricity uses little to no water unlike, coal, oil, gas, or nuclear reactors. It is ecological.
    Solar electricity is flexible, less costly to install and maintain than even natural gas.
    Solar hot-water heating has been deployed since the 1890s.
Solar works for you in your home, your community, and around the world so long as the sun shines. sun



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Heat from the sun due to convection is the more obvious form of useful energy, called solar thermal technology.


One of the least efficient uses of electricity is to heat and cool water and air; but the sun can be used to make hot water in many parts of the world.


Cookin' with the sun!

Solar kitchens:

Solar cookers were invented in the 1760s; today are used for food preparation relieve the need to use wood or charcoal that can lead to deforestation.


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Solar charging station for electric vehicles in Sacramento, California is nearly two decades old because municipal utilities are encouraged to invest in photovoltaic technology.


Solar panels generate electricity to fuel plug-in vehicles for travel and transportation.

SunThose higher frequency waves with more energy than visible light are called ionizing radiation beginning with the ultra violet frequency. At that frequency, in certain materials, the light radiation [called light quantum] has the capacity to move electrons from their recipient atoms. These flowing electrons –are by definition– electricity.

Ultra violet range spectrum Infrared (heat) range


Solar photovoltaic energy explained by NREL - National Renewable Energy Laboratory: solar power.



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Solar societies

plo An array of solar panels, needs no water to convert sunshine (ultraviolet radiation) into electricity.

From one concept . . .


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Jobs can be created in local neighborhoods, and add to the value of a structure. sun

pvcrew plo = A solar panel

The installation of solar-electric panels on a roof transforms the residents from mere consumers to producers overnight!

. . . entire communities are capable of being reborn.

A design for a solar city in Novato, Marin County, California.

It takes a village . . . .

"California Valley Solar Ranch actually consists of a number of fairly distinct arrays of SunPower panels -- ten, to be exact. So while the entire site is 4,700 acres, less than a third of it, 1,500 acres, is covered in panels or buildings. NRG counts the remaining 3,200 acres as “permanently conserved and managed to meet conservation objectives for a range of species.”. . . The loan-guarantee-backed, 250-megawatt California Valley Solar Ranch in San Luis Obispo County, Calif. is fully commissioned and operating at a whopping capacity of 250 megawatts, making it one of the biggest PV plants in the world, according to owner NRG Energy."



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One village at a time and we can change the world's consumers to producers.

From Turkey to India and from Japan to Brazil, there are so many places I travel where you can see solar hot water heaters and solar electrical facilities. In 1989, all over Greece I saw hot water heaters. In Israel four years ago you were unable to get a permit for new building unless it was equipped with solar hot water heating. More recently I have seen numerous solar electric generating arrays called PV (pv), which is short for, photovoltaic arrays.

The United Kingdom
Electric cars and vehicles when parked in the shade under solar electric or photovoltaic arrays can actually charge their batteries and run on the energy from the sun, as shown here 15 years ago at the Sacramento Airport. Sacramento Municipal Utility District: 1990s.

Around the world people are getting the message, the sun can do a lot more than heat up the earth, and increase your risk of skin cancer!

The sun can, with the correct tools, installed properly, generate electricity and heat water, while providing a reliable and efficient means of reducing heat trapping gas pollution of the air and water.

Scientists have known the power of the sun since the 1839, so what are you waiting for?


solar panels in Boston!
Solar electric panels at Logan Airport, Boston, Mass.



Overcoming obstacles makes these new producers smarter buyers.

Why don't we see solar electric panels on every public building in the United States?

Finance is everywhere a problem --except in Germany-- associated with the expense of installing solar electrical equipment. One, is because it is costly to make, deliver and install the solar electrical panels. Two, because utilities require certain standards of operation that increase these existing technical costs. Three, because utilities are not required to buy the electricity you generate from the system on your property -- each state has different rules.

But does money, the commercial marketing of solar, need to be the problem that it has become? Not entirely, since the cost of solar is artificially high and the means to make it more affordable –and hence widely available– have little or nothing to do with its performance, reliability and service.

Ways to finance solar are still daunting. ( A loan, is expensive, but not compared to rising fuel prices, unstable sources of oil, or strip mining Wyoming for your coal! ) In Florida, The First Green Bank is trying to meet the needs of small scale customers.The bank offers no collateral, solar loans for qualified customers. Overcoming the financial burden of investment is an important first step in making solar electricity affordable for working people, who are often left-behind by costly technical innovation.



The final problem is habituation.

That means we are in the habit of buying something based on the cost of producing and selling that product instead of thinking about the cost of operating that product or appliance over the life of its service to us. Since we pay for the service monthly, as opposed to buying the appliance -- we say the up front cost is more important to our expense accounts than the service fee over time. That is true even as the price of fuel for cars or appliances steadily increases. Thus the cost of using a refrigerator for a dozen years does not come into the equation we use to factor in our ability to buy an appliance. The sticker reveals the immediate and not the long-term operating and disposal costs.



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value discussed | ecological design principles | living well


Details about the radiant village

PV Cells, Modules, & Arrays are sources of clean power.

Photovoltaic cells [called PV] are capable of turning sunshine into electrical current to run electric motors.


M.I.T. has a stand alone system to monitor weather conditions in Cambridge.


Photovoltaic cells are connected electrically in series and/or parallel circuits to produce higher voltages, currents and power levels. Photovoltaic modules consist of PV cell circuits sealed in an environmentally protective laminate, and are the fundamental building block of PV systems.

Photovoltaic panels include one or more PV modules assembled as a pre-wired, field-install able unit. A photovoltaic array is the complete power-generating unit, consisting of any number of PV modules and panels.

Ample rooftop space across the nation sits idle in the sun, diverting rainwater & generating heat, instead of electricity. The picture shown here in the photograph of photovoltaic panels on a roof converts the liability of any roof into an asset because the panels generate electrical current that the building's appliances can use. Excess electrical power when properly converted can be sold to utility companies as is done in several states with the foresight to have laws that make any roof-owners, producers of electrical power.



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How much sunshine is available for our use?

The more orange or red the map, the greater the amount of solar insolation; that means the amount of our sun's radiation falling on that geographical area in the course of a year.

Notice that Germany with the solar irradiance annually equivalent to Alaska, is investing ten times as much as the US in solar electrical technology.

The leaders of the top ten solar states in the United States last year (2014) were California & North Carolina!

Six states in the United States during 2012 led with respect to per capita generation of electricity from PV, or photovoltaic; solar-derived electricity.
Be cautious, because such a measure gives smaller states by population a higher ranking.

They are:

But in terms of total megawatt (MW) generating capacity the list is:

Rank of states by electricity generated by solar power

Total PV capacity generated

1 California


2 Arizona


3 New Jersey


4 Nevada


Source: Clean Energy report from CleaneTechnica

Florida ranked 20, and fails in any serious way to utilize solar energy effectively!

PV potential in the USA

Germany, with as little solar irradiance as Alaska has more solar generating facilities than does the United States.



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Figure 2. Photovoltaic cells are solar electricity generating modules of panels placed in an array or arrays to capture, convert and transmit sunlight as an electrical current.

A solar panel is really a set of separate PV modules linked to generate electricity form the sun. The performance of PV modules and arrays are generally rated according to their maximum DC power output (watts) under Standard Test Conditions (STC). Standard Test Conditions are defined by a module (cell) operating temperature of 25? C (77 F), and incident solar irradiance level of 1000 W/square meter and under Air Mass 1.5 spectral distribution. Since these conditions are not always typical of how PV modules and arrays operate in the field, actual performance is usually 85 to 90 percent of the STC rating.

China is the leading maker of solar panels and has been for years; even the largest Canadian solar panel maker has a plant in the People's Republic of China; so reports Forbes Magazine in 2014.

How is that possible?
diagram of PV starshine
Solar energy, or ultra violet radiation [or ionizing radiation] can generate current.  
  Prism refracts light spectrum
The prism separates a visible light spectrum into different frequencies of radiant energy from red to yellow, to green, to blue, to violet. The low frequency and less energetic wavelengths are red and infrared as opposed to the high frequency and more forceful wavelengths that are violet and ultraviolet (ionizing) radiation.
The ultra violet, or ionizing radiation is capable, in certain substances, of generating a reliable electrical current.



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At Rollins College the facilities are now monitoring the performance of a 1 to 2 kilowatt system to better determine the investment return on performance generated data since the 10 module, solar array system was installed in February, 2007.


Rollins Solar array

Rollins 1.5 kilowatt solar-electric system can generate from 1 to 7 kilowatt hours of power daily depending on sun exposure.


Today’s photovoltaic modules are very safe and extremely reliable products, with minimal failure rates and projected service lifetimes of 20 to 30 years. Most major manufacturers offer warranties of twenty or more years for maintaining a high percentage of initial rated power output. When selecting PV modules, look for the product listing Underwriters Laboratories (UL), qualification testing and warranty information in the module manufacturer’s specifications.





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PV array installations are on the order of 8 to 12 square meters (86 to 129 square feet) per kilowatt of installed peak array capacity.

But not all systems operate at the peak of their potential since their position, sun angle, clouds and temperature all affect the level of the current. Instead of the best a system can generate in terms of kilowatts, such as a 2 kilowatt array, consumes should be informed about the average performance and the minimal output on the shortest day of the year.

Roof Shingles roof shingles, and photovoltaic shingles

Shingles that look and install just like ordinary shingles, but allow your roof to evolve from mere protection from weather, to a source of solar electric power. These shingles have been honored with the Popular Science Grand Award, "Best of What's New," and with Discover magazine's "Technological Innovation Award."


Roof Shingles roof shingles, or photovoltaic shingles are solar electric power solutions as examples of solar power or electricity that can provide service for telecommunications, navigation, water pumping, traffic lights, cathodic protection, buoys, off-grid power needs or even small refrigeration units.

Roof Shingles™ are shingles made or thin film solar technology. These shingles–or roofing materials– provide photovoltaic or electrical current while serving as weather protection for a structure as do conventional shingles, they can do two things at once when the sun shines –protect the dwelling and generate electricity to use.

thin film  An example of thin film solar technology; that could alter the versatility of small appliances.

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Spectrum line


* Attractive style
* Fully integrated shingle roof
* Lower electric bill
* Free electricity
* Pollution-free power
* Increased home value
* Manufacturer backed warranty
* Protects the environment
* Exceptionally durable
* Great investment
* Significant state rebates available in some jurisdictions


* Architecturally pleasing systems that do not distract
from the natural lines of the home
* Complete design freedom
* Solar shingles are structurally and aesthetically
integrated roofing elements
* Capable of withstanding 80 mph wind loads
* No support structures needed
* UL Listed as prepared roofing cover
* Modules and inverters UL listed
* Wind and water tight roof
* Suitable both for renovation and for new construction
* 20-year power output and 5-year system warranty
* Direct nailing on wood decks with fire-resistant under pinning materials
* No back-ventilation of solar shingles necessary
* Easy to transport and install
* Lightweight shingles are easy to handle and can be
placed directly on fire-resistant roofing underlying material.



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Photovoltaic –or solar electric– shingles serve as a conventional shingle for weather protection, while generating clean solar electricity to commercial and residential buildings. SHR17.


Combining solar innovation with award winning design, the flexible SHR assumes the pattern of traditional asphalt shingles. The new PV shingle enables roofs of residential or commercial buildings to become sources of electricity as well as protection from the elements. The PV shingle face is textured to blend and complement the granular surface of conventional surrounding shingles. Each shingle is 12 inches (30.48 cm) wide by 86.5 inches (219.71 cm) long and nailed in place on roof decking over 30 pound felt sheeting. Electrical lead wires, #18AWG, extend 12 inches (30.48 cm) from underside of each shingle and pass through the roof deck allowing interior roof space connections. Once in place, the sun’s warmth helps bond shingles together forming a weather-resistant seal. Cell exposure 5.0 inches (12.7 cm) x 86.4 inches (219.46 cm). Array size depends on power demands.

See: http://www.oksolar.com/roof/


Solar electricity is an old technology; so make it do new tasks for you.

em waves

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So see the light?

Make the sun your friend, not your adversary.

Get in synchrony with the world and go solar today.


Well install an inexpensive hot water heater called solar thermal, or invest in a solar-electric array.


1. install a solar thermal water heater.



2. install a solar (photovoltaic, or PV) electric generating array.

People of all skill levels are employed when constructing a solar array.

Electric Cars are Nothing New

carDespite our hundred-year love affair with the internal combustion engine (ICE), electric and hybrid cars have finally become cool. The technology isn’t remotely new. In fact, the hybrid car predates the 1997 Toyota Prius by nearly a century, and the electric car is even older than that.

In 1898, the 18-year old Ferdinand Porsche – yes,that Porsche – found himself in Vienna building cars with coach-builder Jacob Lohner. His first prototype, the System Lohner-Porsche Electric Voiturette, used individual, battery-powered motors to drive each wheel. Each motor delivered around 3bhp and could burst up to 7bhp for short periods, allowing it to achieve speeds of up to 36mph — impressive, for the day. The vehicle weighed nearly 4 tons, half of which was the enormous 44-cell 80-volt lead-acid battery. The electric motors themselves accounted for another 1280 pounds.

The future exists today, you just need to see it through all the old and advertized past.

News Service & Media on clean energy!

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Technical terms:

albedo is the proportion of the incoming, or incident light called radiation that is reflected by a surface, typically that of an opaque surface.


convection is the term used to describe movement caused within a fluid by the tendency of hotter and therefore less dense material to rise, and colder, denser material to sink under the influence of gravity, which consequently results in transfer of heat.


DC power means direct current; Solar or photovoltaic panels generate direct current while our appliances use alternating current. On this page the technical difference between direct and alternating currents of electricity is explained. See WGBH.


ecology is a word in transition since it was first used in the 1860s in America and Germany and then applied to plants in Denmark and Britain before coming to mean the entire conditions both of the living world and the non-living constraints on Earth, or anywhere on the planet where life adjusts to physical and chemical circumstances. Today ecology is often used to convey the totality of a situation under observation or discussion for the purposes of understanding all of the intentional and unintentional consequences of actions on Earth or its regions.


electricity one of the three or four fundamental forces in the universe; as a utility it is measured in kilowatt hours kWh.


PV, photovoltaic, meaning literally: light + electric, or photo {light} voltaic {electrical}; "relating to the production of electric current at the junction of two substances exposed to light." Solar derived electricity.


insolation means the amount, due to the extent and duration, of exposure to sunlight; the amount of solar radiation reaching a given area.


solar irradiance; in physics the flux or change in the amount of radiant energy per unit area (normal to the direction of flow of radiant energy through a medium).



Responsible, resilient solutions for campuses and communities.

trees are good for dozens of reasons

National Renewable Energy Laboratory: NREL

Places with Solar Energy working to make electricity:

Sacramento Municipal Utility District: SMUD since 1984!

University of California Santa Barbara since 1998

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

University of South Florida since 2000

University of Wisconsin

California State University Hayward

Solar energy installations in the USA

starRollins College star





The Florida Solar Energy Center



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Updated on August 22, 2006; Last Updated Jan. 18, 2009; March 21, 2016 .

By Joseph Siry


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