The Iowa Energy Center’s work in solar energy goes back to the 1993 assessment of our state’s solar energy potential. This data led to the creation of our solar maps and calculator . Today, we continue the investigation of solar-related technologies with a photovoltaic demonstration at our facility in Ames and BECON, and two current grants that research methods for increasing solar panel energy efficiency and stability.

More information
The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), a world leader in solar energy, has put together a comprehensive primer to solar information. These guides are applicable to Iowa.

Photovoltaics Q & A
Of all the solar energy technologies, photovoltaics (PV) show the greatest promise for worldwide acceptance and application. Their universal appeal lies in the fact that they generate electricity from the sun. Working photovoltaics have no moving parts, are relatively simple in design, need very little maintenance and are environmentally benign. They simply and silently produce electricity whenever they are exposed to light.

The following information from the FSEC is a great primer for solar electricity.

You don’t have to be an engineer to understand photovoltaics – the direct conversion of light into electricity. If you would like an overview of the fundamentals, visit FSEC’s, How a PV System Works . This page contains links which explain photovoltaic technology in more detail and describe the wide range of projects underway in FSEC’s PV Division.

Thermal Heating Q & A
Solar water heating is a technology that every homeowner can use to save dollars on utility bills. It’s a viable option for homes, pools and commercial buildings. The FSEC has extensive knowledge in this area and has made it available Online: Solar Hot Water .