Investigating Renewable Energy Data from Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Panels

Carla McAuliffe, Center for Science Teaching and Learning at TERC, Carla_McAuliffe@terc.edu
Rita Freuder, TERC Education Consultant, rita.freuder@gmail.com

Published: March 2010. Last Updated: May 2011.

Description

System details about the solar panels at Austin Lake Travis High School in Austin, Texas.

Using renewable sources of energy benefits the environment and contributes to more sustainable energy use. The burning of fossil fuels generates air pollution and increased CO2 in the atmosphere. CO2 is the major greenhouse gas warming our planet. Using more renewable sources of energy not only reduces pollution, but also conserves the current limited supply of fossil fuels.

In this chapter, you will look at how much solar energy is generated by photovoltaic panels on rooftops or exposed ground locations at installations around the United States. You will explore two different websites that monitor and report solar energy production from panels at many different locations. Next, you will examine data from a single location as well as compare data from two different locations. Last, you will consider how much of a school's or home's energy needs could be supplied by solar power.


This chapter is part of the Earth Exploration Toolbook. Each chapter provides teachers and/or students with direct practice for using scientific tools to analyze Earth science data. Students should begin on the Case Study page.


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