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TYPES OF SOLAR PANELS Solar panels are systems that capture sunlight and convert it into electricity. According to NDSU’s Darryl Booker, there are three types of solar energy systems:

• Passive solar energy system captures the energy of the sun and transmits it directly into a space.

• Solar electric system

government will cover up to 30 percent of the cost up to $2,000. Mahowald predicts that besides energy prices, the use of solar panels in North Dakota also will be driven by emissions on coal, carbon legislation along with supply and demand. Scientists are working to develop ways to make solar panels more efficient and affordable. Recent developments allow solar panels to be placed right in the window. Darryl Booker, associate professor of architecture at North Dakota State University, says that the high cost of the solar panel systems is partly due to the armature that holds the panel in place. “If you can embed it in glass or a roofing system or even create more flexible systems, then the cost will come down,” he said. Until solar panels gain popularity in

North Dakota, there are other ways to harness solar energy. When building a new home, homeowners can use solar landscaping. “We recommend people face their home to the southwest. We suggest planting deciduous trees on the south and east side of the home and plant evergreens on the north side of the house to block the wind,” Matthys said. There is an abundance of information available. Books about solar energy have moved out of the scientific racks into the general home building or home design sections of the bookstore or library. If a consumer is serious about investing in solar panels, Booker recommends attending a workshop. “There is an organization called Solar Energy International in Carbondale, Colorado, which holds workshops all over the country. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a government research

also known as a photovoltaic system, it converts sunlight into energy and transfers it to a storage system where it is held or sent back onto the electrical grid.

• Solar water system the most complex system, it allows water to fall over a panel, absorbing the energy of the sun. Heat energy is transferred from the panel to the water. As the water reaches the bottom of the panel, it is transferred to a storage tank. The super-heated water is mixed with cold water to provide the domestic water you use everyday.

institute, is located in Golden, Colorado, which is a good source for energy reports. The Rocky Mountain Institute in Snowmass, Colorado, is a good resource for all things sustainable. Workshops also are a good way to build a network of people who are interested in the same thing.” In the meantime, consumers should remain cognizant of the technologies regarding alternative energy. “The sun is a great resource. There is energy forever. The sunlight that hits the earth exceeds our total needs by 20,000 times,” Matthys said. “As we find more economical ways to convert sunlight to energy, we’re going to see more of it in our state.” Summer 2009  17

Outdoor Design & Living Guide - Summer 2009  

Issue 1 - Summer 2009 issue of Outdoor Design & Living Guide of Fargo-Moorhead