Solar Energy
Jenna Madrid, Evan Suarez, Arianna Manzanares


The discovery of photovoltaic which is the method that makes solar power possible was first discovered by Edmond Becquerel, a French physicist in 1839. Edmond first discovers photovoltaic activity when he found that electrical currents in certain materials could be increased when exposed to light. This discovery didn’t really get any attention when it first came up but 66 years later in 1905 we gained the understanding of it. We first started to take notice of this concept when famous physicist Albert Einstein described the photoelectric effect which is the base in which photovoltaic starts. Functioning solar cells have been commercially been available since the 1950s. AT&T labs were the first to develop a silicon solar cell. These first solar cells were 6% efficient which means essentially that 6% of the total energy that hits the solar cells is then converted into usable electricity. By the 1960s Hoffman Electronics had developed a commercial solar cell that had 14% efficiency. Today’s solar cells have 20% efficiency. The first real long-term application of the solar cells was used in satellites. The first time we saw then used in a satellite system was in 1958 in the Vanguard l, it was the first orbiting vehicle to be powered off of solar energy. Because of the success in the first satellite the uses of solar cells have ever since been used in worldwide satellite programs. The demand for solar cells has raised because of the demand for cell phone communication satellites. The interest in solar energy increased in the 1970s due to the energy crisis and oil embargos. This made many nations aware of the dependency on controlled nonrenewable sources which fueled the exploration of alternative energy resources including solar energy. Along with that in the 1960s Dr. Elliot Berman was able to develop a less expensive solar cell that brought the cost down from 100 dollars per watt to 20 dollars per watt which are the most common ones we see in use today. Because of the cost decrease more practical uses of the solar cells emerged such as, railroads, lighthouses, off shore oil rigs, buoys, and remote homes. Because of the increase of uses and the need for a new energy resource solar energy is becoming a primary resource instead of an alternative one.

Solar energy is one of the most promising alternative resources that we have been using to un- renewable resources like fossil fuels that we rely on. Solar energy has a lot of positive aspects that go along with it that make it look like an attractive alternative. One of those positives is the fact that solar energy does not release any pollutants into the environment once it is set up. The only time that solar panels ever result in any kind of release of pollutants is when they are being manufactured and transported, but once they are installed they don’t release any pollutants. Another positive is that solar panels are able to provide energy to remote areas of the world. Traditional energy resources aren’t radially available to certain more remote areas so solar energy provides that energy that is needed. One of the best things about solar energy is the fact that once in place you will have a free energy resource to power anything that you want. The money saving opportunity is probably the most attractive thing about solar energy.

Although solar energy provides a lot of great advantages there are some disadvantages to it. One of those disadvantages is that solar panels cost a lot. Solar panels themselves cost thousands of dollars for just one panel, and many homes and businesses need more than one panel. Another disadvantage that solar power has is the fact that it gets its power from the sun but the sun only shines for half the day the other half of the day there is no power being supplies by the solar panels. Along with that the sun is not always shinning. If the weather is bad the solar panels will not produce any energy that we can use. Pollution also affects solar panels, if people want to use solar panels in highly polluted areas might have a hard time.


Current Solar Technology uses in New Mexico:
NMSEA- Founded in 1972, New Mexico Solar Energy Association is a non-profit organization that is devoted to finding different methods for renewable energy.
NMSU- New Mexico State University has a program called Southwest Technology Development Institute that teaches about energy and the environment as well as creating codes and standards for the renewable energy industry. Some standards they set are technical issues for products and services around the world, and safety regulations.
It recently was awarded $1.75 million for funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. In total that brings their funding budget to $5.95 million. Dr. Abbas Ghassemi, the Director of the program said, “Standards are a part of the foundation in building the green revolution. They facilitate implementation of innovative renewable technologies with impact on economic, technical, societal and environmental development.”
PNM: Prosperity Energy Storage Project- PNM has a project that they have created to try and fix the problem with a reliable renewable energy source. This project relies on the sun and solar panels. This project happens to be the nation’s first storage unit that is connected with a utility power grid. This system features one of the largest battery containers and a process the turn’s solar energy to electric currents in the nation. PNM is partnered with U.N.M., Northern New Mexico College, East Penn Manufacturing, and Sandia National Labs. The test is going to take place from 20011-13.

These are the batteries in which the solar power is stored.

These are the solar panels that are at the PNM project site.

Green Jobs Cabinet- In 2009 Governor Bill Richardson created the “Green Jobs Cabinet”. This cabinet is designed to come up with different strategies to use our constant sun and wind that we have to benefit our environment. The programs leaders came up with some goals for the program.
  1. "Be the Leader in Renewable Energy Export: Establish New Mexico as the leading exporter of renewable energy and renewable energy products, in the areas of both electricity and biofuels.
  2. Be the Center of the North American Solar Industry: Make New Mexico the “Solar Valley” of the United States: New Mexico must harness its potential to develop a vertically integrated solar economy from R&D and demonstration to commercialization, startup businesses, manufacturing, and installation. The entire value chain resides in New Mexico.
  3. Lead the Nation in Green Grid Innovation: Leverage technology from our national laboratories and universities to create an entrepreneurial engine of new high tech, clean tech businesses. Make the “green grid” a top priority.
  4. Be a Center of Excellence for Green Building and Energy Efficiency: Remain a leader in green building and develop a sustainable energy efficiency renovation industry with a supporting cluster of green building product manufacturers.
  5. Have a Highly Skilled and Ready-to-Work Workforce: Matching industry growth projections with a highly skilled workforce is paramount to the success of New Mexico’s green economy." -(Bill Richardson, Metro New Mexico Development Alliance).
However, to help reach these goals, they need help from the residents of the state. To get help, the program offers different incentives for them. They offer things like Advanced tax credits, Hybrid vehicle tax exemptions and Solar Market Tax Credits. All of these along with many more different incentives.

Science PROJECT.jpg
The amount of solar energy an area gets.
Red- < 6.8
Orange- 6.0
Yellow- 5.0
Green- 4.0
Blue- 4.0
Purple- >2.2

Our Groups ArcGIS map:

Swagg Kings.jpg


The science behind solar energy is very complex. Solar panels are comprised of solar cells. A single solar panel usually contains, on average, about 60 individual solar cells. These solar cells are mainly what make up the solar panel itself. These cells are designed to absorb the suns rays and turn the rays into actual electricity. Solar cells do this by the transportation of electrons throughout the solar panel itself. One of the only big draw backs of the solar cells inside the solar panel is that the solar cells simply convert he energy and doesn’t actually store it. After the energy is converted, there is no way to store the energy that the solar cells produce, thus being one of the bigger draw backs in the science of solar technology. There are two different types of solar energy. These two types of solar energy are photovoltaic energy, and solar thermal energy. The two are the same conceptually, but technically speaking, are different.
Solar thermal energy is measured in British thermal units (Btu) per square foot. The other kind of solar, photovoltaic, is more commonly used because it is measured in the much wider used watts measurement. Solar thermal is more commonly used in European regions, specifically Britain, thus the reason it is called British Thermal Units. For the other kind of panel, photovoltaic, it is much more widely used around the world, especially here in the united states.
For solar panels, the measurement of kWh refers to the amount of energy produced by the panel. This measurement is represented as kWh per square meter of panel surface. This basically means that whatever certain panel it is talking about, kWh talks about how much energy is produced by each square meter of solar panel. How many square meters are on the panel itself changes all the time, depending on what kind of panel it is and what role it is playing.


2. Metro New Mexico Development Alliance - Solar and Green Technology. (n.d.). Metro New Mexico Development Alliance - Home. Retrieved December 14, 2012, from

2. NMSEA - New Mexico Solar Energy Association. (n.d.). NMSEA - New Mexico Solar Energy Association. Retrieved December 14, 2012, from

2. NMSU News Center | NMSU Institute awarded for leadership in solar technology standards. (n.d.). NMSU News Center. Retrieved December 14, 2012, from