This page has information about Solar energy development — both industrial and residential. If you have questions about any of this, or have other material that should be included, or find any errors here, or would like to be on our email list, please email independent physicist John Droz.
Make sure to look at the rest of this WiseEnergy.org website (see menus above), as there are several hundred studies and reports about the economic, environmental and technical consequences of renewable energy.
Make sure to also check out our North Carolina Solar Page which includes proposed local model solar ordinances, as well as solar-related NC laws, proposed legislation, pertinent agencies, etc. To keep current with what’s going on with related energy matters, please periodically check back here (and on that page) for updates.
Here is a quick Solar Primer… There are two general ways sunlight is converted into useful energy: passive and active. Passive refers to such actions as opening a window shade to let sunlight in to heat a room. Active uses mechanical devices to collect, store, convert, and distribute solar energy. This page will focus on Active conversions.
There are two main types of Active solar conversion: Photovoltaic and Thermal.
A Thermal system is based on directly using the heat generated by sunlight. In a home this heat can be used to warm water for residential use. In a larger utility scale operation (Concentrated Solar Power: CSP), solar heat is concentrated and collected and then can be used to drive a conventional steam generator — which produces electricity.
A Photovoltaic (PV) System directly converts sunlight into electricity using a process known as the photovoltaic effect. This is based on using a feature of materials known as semi-conductors. PV can be used from small applications (powering a calculator) to commercial electricity production.
Most of our discussion below relates to industrial solar, i.e. an Active conversion of sunlight into electricity (via PV or Thermal). The last section discusses some concerns of residential solar (which is typically on home roofs).
Note: for a reasonable overview discussion see “Solar Energy Project Development Issues: Preliminary Considerations” (Practical Law Company). Additionally please review our list of 30+ legal and economic concerns for landowners signing solar leases. NC Cooperative Extension has some good observations on their two solar reports: Landowner Solar Leasing and Contract Issues Explained.
Solar Economic Realities —
Solar is Our Worst Economic Option (Brookings)
Solar Subsidies & Handouts —
EIA Report: Subsidies Continue to Roll In For Solar
(See chart to the right…)
Solar Performance —
Some Solar Environmental Problems —
Stanford Study: Solar Projects Could Obliterate Unique Ecosystems
Issues with Rooftop Solar —
Solar Leases Sales Pitches: Overate the benefits
Net Metering Info & Newsletter (Edison Electric Institute)