Solar Energy

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Solar energy is energy from the Sun, which can be harnessed in several ways. Solar panels use the photovoltaic effect to generate electricity directly from sunlight. The Sun’s heat can be used directly to heat water or air, or it can be concentrated to boil water, driving steam turbines that generate electricity.

Basics

Photo of a 600 kW solar electric system on the Minneapolis Convention Center

Solar energy is energy from the Sun, which can be harnessed in several ways. Solar panels use the photovoltaic effect to generate electricity directly from sunlight. The Sun’s heat can be used directly to heat water or air, or it can be concentrated to boil water, driving steam turbines that generate electricity. Solar energy is a form of renewable energy.
Solar power generation is most effective in places that have a lot of direct sunlight throughout the year. Low-latitude, desert areas are ideal, such as southern California, Arizona, and Nevada. However, most areas of the United States are sunny enough to use solar energy to some extent. Solar energy is only available when the sun is shining, so even in the sunniest places, nighttime energy needs must be provided by other energy sources. Scientists and engineers are working to develop advanced batteries to store energy generated from solar power and therefore make solar energy usable 24 hours a day.   Read more

Frequently Asked Questions

Latest News

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July 13, 2016 The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a hearing to discuss the Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act (H.R.2663), a bipartisan bill with 67 cosponsors that was introduced by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) in 2015. If enacted, H.R.2663 would...
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July 11, 2016 The Solar Fuels Innovation Act (H.R.5638) and the Electricity Storage Innovation Act (H.R.5640) passed the House by voice vote this July. The bills, which require the Department of Energy (DOE) to carry out two new basic research initiatives, received bipartisan support. The two...
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Geological Surveys Database Publications

1982, Bureau of Economic Geology
The San Andres evaporitic sequence in the Palo Duro Basin comprises several thick carbonate units in its lower part and many thin units in its upperpart. To the south, across the Northern Shelf of the Midland Basin, evaporites pinch out and carbonates predominate. Six lithofacies were...
1979, Oklahoma Geological Survey

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1929, Ohio Geological Survey

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1994, Wisconsin Geological & Natural History Survey

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2010, United States Geological Survey
Drought strikes somewhere in the United States every year, turning green landscapes brown as precipitation falls below normal levels and water supplies dwindle. Drought is typically a temporary climatic aberration, but it is also an insidious natural hazard. It might last for weeks, months, or...
2002, Oklahoma Geological Survey

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1982, Arizona Geological Survey

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2006, Colorado Geological Survey
Describes exploration, development and production activity of the gas and oil, coal, and mineral industries of the state in 2005. The report also includes information on the economic impact of these industries on the state. 57 pages 69 figures 14 tables. Digital file available as a download. IS-73D.
2007, Colorado Geological Survey

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2011, United States Geological Survey

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