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Brock Johnson
Mrs. Coco
English 1001
3 November 2016
Audience: My audience is a friend or acquaintance that is interested in the development and use
of solar energy in the United States today.
What is working well is that there is a lot of information out there about solar energy
production, use, and the effects of it. All this information makes it easy to find quotes and
articles to paraphrase and summarize. What needs work is that I need to sit down and find more
quotes and expand on the paper more to help describe the different types of solar energy as a
background. The roadblocks that I face are that I feel like I am writing more about the
background than the actual inquiry question. In the conference I want to focus on how I can
bring this paper more towards my inquiry question.
Solar Energy
Solar energy is easily one of the most easily attainable types of renewable energy on the
planet. The source for all this energy is the sun in the center of our galaxy. The sun gives off
energy in the form of solar radiation which is being constantly emitted from the giant ball of gas.
This solar radiation is then collected by humans and transformed into a usable form of energy.
The solar radiation that is being emitted from the sun will be there for millions of years until the
sun itself is burned out. By switching to solar energy America could be taking advantage of the
potential energy coming off of a star. The only problem to switching to solar energy is that it
would hurt all the existing major power companies and the existing power grid. So, what would
be the affects of solar energy on the existing power grid?
Solar energy is becoming more popular today than it ever has been before due to several
reason. These reasons include the effectiveness of existing solar panels, the cost of these solar
panels, the grid parity, and the physical location in which these are installed. But there is also one

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big adversary to switching solar energy, and that is the power companies. The power companies
make money buy selling energy to people, so they do not want people making their own energy
to use. The power companies use politics to block the increased use of solar energy.

Types of solar energy collectors and effectiveness

There are two different types of solar collectors available today on the market. The first
one is the classic solar panel that everyone imagines when you say solar energy. The second
type of solar collector is called a concentrating solar power system. The first type of solar energy
collector is actually made up of photovoltaic cells or PV cells for short. The United States
National Renewable Energy Laboratory says that the traditional PV cells are generally efficient
flat-plates made up of silicon. Unlike the newer second generation PV cells which are called
thin-film solar cells because they are made from amorphous silicon or nonsilicon materials such
as cadmium telluride (Solar Photovoltaic Technology Basics). These film solar cells are just

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millimeters thick by using several semiconducting layers of material. This thin layer of cells can
then also serve as facades on buildings, as rooftop shingles, or as a film on skylights (Solar
Photovoltaic Technology Basics). These cells are arranged on a sheet and are then put on roofs
or mounted on pivoting points so they can move with the sun to collect the most amount of
potential energy.
The second type of solar energy collectors is called a concentrating solar power system
and it is made up of three different main types of these solar power systems. The three types are
linear concentrator, dish/engine systems, and power tower systems. The linear concentrator
acquires the suns thermal energy through a series of curved mirrors. According to the United
States National Renewable Energy Laboratory, this generates energy by tilting the mirrors to the

Comment [Office2]: This was paraphrased to help explain

the uses of the newer generations of solar cells

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sun, so that the light is focused on the receivers that run the length of the mirrors
(Concentrating Solar Power Basics). This heat is used to heat up a fluid that flows in tubes, these

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tubes of hot fluid then travel through water to boil it. The steam then is used for a conventional
steam-turbine generator to produce electricity.
(Talk about the other two types)
Location of solar energy receptors (Insert quotes) (anecdote)
Solar energy is best captured in areas where one its sunny, two is relatively flat, and three
somewhere that has a lot of open space for the receptors. You need a place where the sun is
always shining because thats where you will get the most energy from. You want somewhere
mostly flat so that the sun can be collected easier. Also you want a place with a lot of flat open
space due to the fact that solar farms, which are areas where millions of solar cells are lined up
collecting sun rays, are usually made of up several hundred to a few thousand solar panels. These
panels require a lot of land to be lined up and rows and still be able to move with the sun through
sun tracking technology.
Cost of solar energy and grid parity (Insert quotes)
The cost of solar energy has gone down drastically since the first solar panels were
created. The reduced cost of these solar receptors has be due to government incentives and
through increased effectiveness of these devices. According to the United States National
Renewable Energy Laboratory the PV systems are becoming cost effective for use by utilities
and industry (Solar Photovoltaic Technology Basics). These incentives which have been
keeping cost low, have allowed solar energy to almost reach grid parity. Grid parity is when an
energy, solar in this case, reaches the same cost as energy from the grid making it more

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reasonable to use at your home. Since grid parity has almost been reached, power companies are
not happy due to the fact that it will reduced the amount of customers that they previously had.
Power companies and politics (Insert quotes)
Power companies are opposed to grid parity because it would allow people to generate
their own energy. If people were able to generate their own energy, then they would not have a
need to buy energy from the power companies. Also they would have to buy energy from those
people who generated their own energy and had excess energy. This is due to the net metering
which according to Karsten Moran for The New York Times, net metering is
When solar panels generate more power than a household uses, the excess kilowatts are
pushed back onto the electric grid. Net metering is the billing system that credits a
homeowner for the excess power on the homes future bills. This helps during the winter
months, when solar systems generate less power since the suns energy is weaker
Moran then says that home owners still have to pay a connection charge due to the fact that they
are connected to the grid. But being connected to the grid is helpful because it allows the
consumer to be paid for excess energy, but it also helps during the winter months when they
dont produce as much energy.
Between losing costumers and having to pay for energy they did not create, the energy
companies would not be able to maintain the existing power grid without raising their rates for
consumers. The companies would be forced to raise their rates in order to keep the grid working
and functional. But by doing this they would lose customers due to the fact that solar energy
would be the cheaper choice and the cycle would repeat itself.

Comment [Office5]: This was a quote

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Works Cited
"Concentrating Solar Power Basics." National Renewable Energy Laboratory, United States
Government, Web. www.nrel.gov/workingwithus/re-csp.html. Accessed 3 Nov. 2016.
Moran, Karsten. "What You Should Know Before Going Solar." The New York Times, Web. 30
Sept. 2016.
"Solar Photovoltaic Technology Basics." NATIONAL RENEWABLE ENERGY LABORATORY,
United States Government, Web. 13 Aug. 2013, www.nrel.gov/workingwithus/rephotovoltaics.html. Accessed 3 Nov. 2016.