“We thrive and survive on planet earth as a single human family. And one of our main responsibilities is to leave to successor generations a sustainable future.” - UN Secretary-General Kofi A. Annan

Aquinas College

Solar

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photo

UNI-Solar's thin-film laminate product, manufactured in Greenville, Michigan.
Photo by United Solar Ovonic (NREL PIX number 15779)

Solar energy is quite possibly the most realistic renewable energy source for our future. There are many ways that solar energy can be harvested, such as photovoltaic cells (that convert the sun's energy into electricity), and the energy is available everywhere in large quantities. However, the type of battery used in the solar collectors to store the energy will be an important area of research in the future. Batteries currently contain carcinogenic heavy metals, which cannot be sustainably used indefinitely into the future.

Links

Clean Energy Project Analysis Tools

"The RETScreen International Clean Energy Project Analysis Software is a unique decision support tool developed with the contribution of numerous experts from government, industry, and academia. The software, provided free-of-charge, can be used worldwide to evaluate the energy production and savings, life-cycle costs, emission reductions, financial viability and risk for various types of energy efficient and renewable energy technologies."

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Consumer's Guide- U.S. Department of Energy

This consumer's guide will help you determine the feasibility of installing a Small Solar Electric System on your home or office by providing information on the basics and the costs/benefits of the system.

Find Solar

"The online directory has linked thousands of home and small business owners around the country to qualified solar energy system installers serving their area. The web site also gives consumers a place to estimate costs and output of solar systems for hot water, electricity, and pool or spa heating."

Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC)

The FSEC seeks to provide the general public and professionals with accurate and current information about alternative energy use and production. This link gives insight to anyone interested in general information on photovoltaics and in-depth information on buying or installing photovoltaics.

Jarecki Center for Advanced Learning Photovoltaic Information

The Jarecki Center, located on the Aquinas College campus in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was constructed with a large array of Photovoltaic (PV) panels on the south facing roof. This link shows the amount of electricity generated by the roof top PV system and how much electric utility money is saved with the system.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

NREL is the nation's primary laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL was established in 1974 and in September 1991, was designated a national laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). This organizationís website is a good source of free published research specific to solar energy, as well as other renewable energy publications.

Solar Energies Industry Association (SEIA)

SEIA is the national trade association of solar energy manufacturers, dealers, distributors, contractors, installers, architects, consultants, and marketers who work to expand the use of solar technologies in the global marketplace. This site provides information on how to get involved as an individual or a business, to keep up on the latest solar policy news, and to find out about contractors and incentives for buying solar power.

Solar Tribune

Founded in 2011, Solar Tribune strives to educate the public about the solar industry to help its expansion. It provides insightful information on solar photovoltaics, solar thermal systems, and the basics of solar energy. It also includes specific information about solar panels for residential homes.

Sustainable Energy Coalition (SEC)

The Sustainable Energy Coalition is comprised of more than 30 national business, environmental, consumer, and energy policy organizations. The Coalition was founded in 1992 to promote increased federal support for energy efficiency, renewable energy technologies and reduced federal support for unsafe or polluting energy resources.

Funded by the Steelcase Foundation of Grand Rapids, Michigan
Header photo by Carol Y. Swinehart, courtesy of Michigan Sea Grant Extension
Site by CMC/GrandNet