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Wind and Solar Energy

Questions

  1. What is solar energy and how does it work?
  2. What is wind energy and how does it work?

News Articles

Background Information

Take Away (Main) Points

  1. A transducer is a device for changing one type of energy into another. An example of a transducer is a photovoltaic cell that converts sunlight to electricity.
  2. Energy is never transferred perfectly. Some energy is always dissipated as waste heat.
  3. Solar energy can be divided into two main categories: passive and active. Passive is as simple as letting sunshine into a house on a cold day to warm it up. Active solar energy involves capturing the energy and actively using it, transporting it or storing it.
  4. There is a fundamental relationship between magnetism and electricity. Rotating magnets can generate current; moving current forms magnetic fields. This is the basis of generators and motors.
  5. About 3% of the total electricity produced in the United States is generated by wind power.
  6. Electrical power plants transfer electricity to "The Grid" using step-up and step-down transformers to change the voltages and currents as needed. For long distance transmission high voltage and low current is needed. For household use low voltage and high current is needed.
  7. Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) and Photovoltaic Solar Power (PV) are the two main types of solar power plants.
  8. Current wind turbines use Neodymium, a rare earth element that may be in short supply in the next few years.
  9. Solar power and wind power are considered renewable resources of energy.
  10. Wind and solar industries are currently experiencing significant growth.

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