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Solar Power Basics

US Dept. of Energy/Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

This introductory video summarizes the process of generating solar electricity from photovoltaic and concentrating (thermal) solar power technologies.

Video length: 3:57 min.

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Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

About Teaching the Guiding Principle
Other materials addressing GPe
Sunlight warms the planet
About Teaching Principle 1
Other materials addressing 1a

Energy Literacy

Economic security is impacted by energy choices.
Other materials addressing:
7.1 Economic security.
National security is impacted by energy choices.
Other materials addressing:
7.2 National security.
Environmental quality is impacted by energy choices.
Other materials addressing:
7.3 Environmental quality.
Humans transfer and transform energy from the environment into forms useful for human endeavors.
Other materials addressing:
4.1 Humans transfer and transform energy.
Electricity is usually generated in one of two ways.
Other materials addressing:
4.5 Electricity generation.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

Light and other electromagnetic waves can warm objects. How much an object's temperature increases depends on how intense the light striking its surface is, how long the light shines on the object, and how much of the light is absorbed.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark
Energy from the sun (and the wind and water energy derived from it) is available indefinitely. Because the transfer of energy from these resources is weak and variable, systems are needed to collect and concentrate the energy.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • While not comprehensive coverage of the subject, this video can be used as an introduction to the two primary ways solar energy is harnessed to generate electricity.

About the Science

  • Describes how solar power is harnessed in simple and understandable terms.
  • The video focuses on strengths of solar power but does not address limitations or weaknesses.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • Easy-to-understand narration and visuals about two types of solar energy technology. Applications of the technology are also discussed.
  • Educators will need to expand upon the scientific concepts directly and indirectly presented in the video, i.e. energy capacity and storage, how pv panels work, etc.
  • Can be used in conjunction with other CLEAN-selected solar energy activities and resources.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Closed-captioned text is included.

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