Solar Thermal Energy
by: Ted H. Mello and Ethan Dames
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Sterling Energy Systems`s Solar Power Collection Dishes

What is the problem at hand?
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Nowadays, energy like electricity is created using raw meterials such as oils, gas, and coal. These raw meterials are great now, but they leave a footprint in the environment and are resources that will eventually run out. This is a huge problem. If the world does not find a new way to craete energy the world will be at risk someday of having no more. Even though this will not be happening in our lifetime, it is still a serious issue to address.

What is the driving force of the problem?
As described we are eventually going to run out of raw materials which are necessities for todays energy generation because it is of such high demand. We also face more important issues that can and do face us in this time period. The products of the recent energy generation is hurting the environment. With all the sources of energy that is used it adds alot of polution to the atmosphere and the environment. For example, nuclear power plants release radioactive waste into the environment along with wasting useful water. It also is dangerous because in an act of terrorism, the plant could ruin the surronding area and any living possibilities for miles from the plants base. Power plants like coal, oil, and gas produce carbon dioxide (CO2) and carbon monoxide which is released into the atmosphere. All these power plants are seriously infecting the environment and ruining the O-ZONE layer. Not only does all this effect the environment, but it also effects your wallet. The consumer, which is all of us pays alot of money every year due to the demand for energy, are hurting because there are no serious pursuits of creating and alternative source of energy production. This is a very big problem and with money issues bring greed and lead to crisis and even war among countries.
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"Conservation' (the conservation law) means this ... that there is a number, which you can calculate, at one moment—and as nature undergoes its multitude of changes, this number doesn't change. That is, if you calculate again, this quantity, it'll be the same as it was before. An example is the conservation of energy: there's a quantity that you can calculate according to a certain rule, and it comes out the same answer after, no matter what happens, happens."
Richard P. Feynman

What are people currently doing to solve the problem? 
Today, solar thermal systems are used for more than just electricity.
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People use them for hot water systems, cooking, pool covers, drying, electricity, and even cooling. Solar thermal systems have been out for a while, but there is one problem that the consumer faces. It is very expensive for the consumer and in a time of economic struggle like this, no one can afford it. Regardless, in the long run solar systems will pay for themselves but people cannot just bring themselves to pay that much money. The other big factor is the maintenance that might have to be done on the systems. Accidents occur and people aren't ready for an accident that can lose them thousands of dollars. It is not at loss though. There are people out there that do use solar thermal systems and many companies that use these systems like Massachusetts Maritime Academy who uses these systems for electricity and garbage disposals. It is all in there effort like a lot of other companies and a few residential homes to Go Green. The new source of natural energy is helping but it is not completing the job yet. Hopefully in the future more and more systems will be set up in an effort to solve this problem going on in the world right now.

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How It Works!!!
Solar Energy Systems work when radiant energy from the sun reaches the earth's atmosphere and surfaces when hydrogen is consumed in nuclear fusion reactions on the sun causing what is known as photons.
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The photons raech the earth in about 8 minutes and 20 seconds. When they do the earths atmosphere, oceans, and plant life attract this consume this energy. That is when the Solar Panel or solar photo-voltaic cells convert radiation to electricity. Individual cells are packed into modules, Groups of modules are called arrays.
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These photo-voltaic arrays are act like a battery producing direct current and sharing it with a grid or sending it into a building. Near the solar panels thereb is a weather station that contains an anemometer that measures wind speed, a pyranometer that measures the amount of solar energy, and a thermometer that measures the temperature.
The electronic signals from the weather station are transmitted to the data acquisition system where they are interpreted and stored for collection on a periodic basis.From the photo-voltaic arrays direct current is brought to a direct current disconnect switch which can stop the current from reaching the system in time of repair. From the disconnect switch the current is brought to an inverter which converts the electricity from direct current to alternating current which is the normal current in residential and commercial applications. From the inverter the electricity goes to a transformer which ensures that the voltage coming in the inverter id compatible with the voltage in the building. From there the current is brought to an alternating current disconnect switch which does the same job as the direct current switch but it is used for alternating current which is important since the the two types of currents can effect the metallic conductors that are used for the switch. From there the current is brought to a meter measuring the electricity in kilowatt-hours and records data to the data acquisition system.
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The data acquisition system signals from the weather station and the meter to log record weather conditions and outputs of the system itself. The electricity is then brought to an electrical distributer panel which receives the electricity and routes it throughout the building. This system has a battery back-up system, which is in the system that supplies the house or appliances. The batteries charge during the day while the panels do the work; then at night the panels do not have enough energy to feed the building so the batteries do the work. This basic system is used for all solar power systems, whether it put to use for heat energy, electricity, or even small appliances.This all starts at the photo-voltaic panels that convert the sun's energy to other needed energy.
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Basic Photo-Voltaic System

Key Aspects!!!
Advantages and Disadvantages
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There are many advantages of photo-voltaic systems.
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For example, the electricity produced by solar cells are ideally clean and do not use any other fuel but the sunshine. Because of this, they do not release any harmful substances to contribute to air or water pollution into the environment, use up natural resources, or hurt the environment. Also small scale solar panels take up unused space like on roof tops, which is a prime space to use because the sun comes into direct contact with the panels. Solar panels last for a long time and work like a renewable source of energy. It can be used for most needs of energy like water heating and it does not cost money for imports and shipping due to the fact that we get it from the sun. Last but not least, photo-voltaic systems can be constructed for any energy requirement, it can be added wherever it is necessary, and can be used on mobile trailer-mounted pumping systems to water cattle as cattle are rotated to different fields.


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There are few but distinctive disadvantages of photo-voltaic systems. They are made from some toxic chemicals like cadmium and arsenic. Though these are potentially harmful, they are minor and can be maintained with proper recycling. The initial cost to set up a system is extremely expensive, but with time the system will pay for itself. The last but most important disadvantage is that if there are periods of no sun than energy could be scarce. Even though the battery packs are there to store energy, whenever there are scarce periods of sunlight and that battery packs runs low on energy, it means that there is no reliable source of energy where these solar panels are in place.

The Critics!!!

"We live in an old terraced house on a cloudy, rainy island. Yet the solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on our roof, put up two years ago, are supplying around 90% of all the electricity used by my family.
external image images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTDZL2aMpEfFDNomg14AnlMaXGTQEcZ3D_I9VvRwF-5JTpDCFVv&t=1The initial cost is high, but don't let that put you off. Two key developments in recent months have made it worth considering solar PV panels. One is that a government incentive for PV doubled on 1 April and the other is that interest rates on many savings accounts have dropped to about 0.1%, meaning it is time your money worked harder. And don't be deterred by the idea Britain doesn't get enough sunshine. In fact, solar radiation here is remarkably consistent and only around one third less than southern Italy or Spain. I have just come to the end of my second year with a solar PV system on my roof and it has been a great success. We have a 3kW peak system (about 4m by 3m) on the roof. It produced 2,703kW hours (kWh) in its second full year (to 5 April), only 1% lower than the 2,730 kWh it produced in the first year, and that in spite of a lousy 2008 summer. That was about 80% of the 3,500 kWh we used, and our usage was up because we had builders do some underpinning, which meant lots of kettles and cement mixers on. The previous year we – a family of four – used 3,000 kWh, so the solar system produced 92% of our needs, a figure we expect to return to in the coming 12 months."
Ashley Seager

Current World Wide Energy Supply!!!
Not Yet!
Currently, the world relies on raw materials such as oil, gas, and coal. 37% is oil, 25% is coal, 23% is gas, and the remaining 15% is nuclear, biomass, and hydrogen. Coal, nuclear, and hydrogen are mainly used to make electricity while natural gas is usually used for heating. Biomass is also used for heating as well as cooking. The big deal is, of course, the oil. Almost all motorized machines such as cars, trucks, tractors, and tools are run by oil. This is a big deal, since there is a limited amount of oil out there along with gas, coal, and possibly biomass. The future could look towards photo-voltaic energy systems, but that could not replace oil for good. Machines will still have to be run on oil and solar energy will have a challenge to stop that. On the contrary, solar energy will be able to replace all means of electrical energy along with heating because the only key factor that will be needed is the sunlight. This is a big part to the movement of new means of energy.
Global Energy
Global Energy

The chemistry behind it!
The solar cells of a solar panel are made in an extremely complex, but significant way. They are made from silicon by bringing two different pieces of silicon together. Silicon, having four electrons on its outer most shell, makes four strong bonds to have a complete set of 8 valence electrons. Silicon alone conducts poorly, but a technique to increase its conductivity called doping that adds another element into silicon to alter its chemical properties. A phosphorous atom has five electrons in its valence shell instead of four. When it is introduced into the structure of silicon, phosphorous contributes one electron that is not included in a bond. Silicon with phosphorous atoms in it is called n-type silicon. This is because it has an extra electron. A boron atom, which has three valence electrons, is then added to the silicon crystal which creates a one-electron shortage with a hole being in the structure now.
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This can be thought of as the positive charge on the silicon atom, therefore creating a p-type silicon. When p-type and n-type silicon pieces are placed next to each other, a p-n junction is formed where the two pieces of silicon touch. The extra electrons from the phosphorous are attracted to the “holes” existing in the p-type silicon. Electrons from the n-type side travel across the junction and fill the “holes” near the junction in the p-type side. The p-type side now has electrons that it did not have before and is negatively charged. The n-type side has lost electrons and is positively charged. This shift in charge between the two sides creates an electric field, which is like a force field. This force pushes the electrons to flow through the external circuit, which creates electricity. Fabulous, isn't it?

The Conclusion!!!

With the world evolving as quickly as it is, there needs to be different types of energy sources to keep up with the evolution of the world. Something as complex, but simple as solar thermal energy could be the key to a greener world. The world should be looked at now more than ever as a place we need to keep clean and free of any volatile substances and free of air and water pollution. The world is made up of 69% water, which is an essential part of everyday life now and forever. How would the human race live without water. Unlike energy sources, we cannot find an alternative for water because it is more of a necessity than we make it out to be. some of our favorite drinks, like cool aid, soda, Gatorade and the popular energy drink depend on water for production and profit because of water. Without alternative ways to produce energy to reduce the pollution of water, then the simplest thing as a refreshing drink would not be at our disposal anymore. Furthermore, with the pollution of the air we breathe, we will not live! Breathing is probably one of the only habit that living organisms do without even thinking. Without clean air to breathe, the death rate of respiratory problems with go through the sky. If this becomes a problem that gets out of control, then this world will not prosper long enough for our grandchildren to have grandchildren. Without the production of alternative sources of energy, plus the diminishing of all other reliable sources like oil, gas and biomass, the world would probably never see another few generations grow to evolve the world to a more technological place. We cannot let this problem of pollution take over our lives here on earth.

"The scientific applications to everyday may never be right in in front of our eyes, but they are always put to good use in our lives everyday. If it weren't for the theories of science and the intuitive thinking of engineers and inventors, we would still be living in caves using two sticks for warmth and light. Everything starts with a dream, then that dream becomes an idea and that idea becomes a long successful journey to success and perfection by the inventor. We as humans should take into consideration the time and effort that scientists put into their work because if it weren't for them, we would probably a world of average people thinking and talking about other people and other things that we think may be important."

-Ethan G. Dames
The True Genius Speaks!!!"
"It is crazy to think that we can use the suns energy as useful energy on earth.
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We do not use as much as we should though. The position the world is in now binds us to the need of raw materials that in fact will eventually run out. Some day we will be forced to use electrical energy and there will be a higher demand for it. That is when the world will be in an uproar. It is a smart thing for society to get into photo-voltaics. It may not effect the cars as much but it is proven and used at a minimum today as a source of electrical energy capable of being able to heat, cool, cook, charge, and supply any electrical appliance. It is the future and should be taken seriously. Paying for a system like this is very expensive but after a while it will pay for itself. The reality of it all is if more people use this than more science will be done, quality will improve, and it will be more useful then than it is today. Unfortunately it looks like the world is going to wait to the last minute. There might be something that will be discovered to cure this disaster but its not a guarantee. The resources used today hurt the environment and eat away at the resources left. I say we make a change that will work out at the end. As technology moves on and the given thought that people will change to photo-voltaics, the systems themselves will be reinforced by the act of science and all the improvements that will be generated by it."
-Ted H. Mello

external image einstein_tongue.jpgTHE TWO SMARTEST PEOPLE YOU WILL EVER MEET!!!
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