Saved by the Sun

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This hour-long program is divided into six chapters. Choose any chapter below and select QuickTime or Windows Media Player to begin viewing the video. If you experience difficulty viewing, it may be due to high demand. We regret this and suggest you try back at another time.

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Chapter 1
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The Solar Resource

This chapter:

  • looks at some of the early efforts to launch solar technologies.
  • explains how photovoltaic cells work.
  • profiles one Massachusetts family that installed solar panels.
  • shows how solar energy gets converted into electricity in a house.

running time 7:58

Chapter 2
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The Energy Crunch

This chapter:

  • notes that costs keep many people from adopting solar technology.
  • reviews solar-panel installation costs.
  • reports on how fossil fuels contribute to global warming and explains how solar panels can help reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
  • describes what causes blackouts.
  • presents the challenges of maintaining power during the summer in Los Angeles.

running time 9:08

Chapter 3
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Powering City Life

This chapter:

  • notes why it is important to find alternatives to fossil fuels.
  • reviews alternatives to fossil fuels and the barriers to their adoption.
  • profiles the Kramer Junction Solar Electric Generating System in the Mojave Desert, the largest solar thermal power plant in the world.
  • explains how Kramer Junction used parabolic mirrors to capture the sun's rays.
  • cites the challenges of large-scale implementation of solar power.

running time 6:07

Chapter 4
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The German Experiment

This chapter:

  • looks at how Germany's government-backed efforts have brought solar power into the mainstream.
  • notes that the program's success is due to cash incentives that allow users to sell power back to the grid for a profit.
  • states that Germany has become the world leader in solar cell production.

running time 8:28

Chapter 5
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Good Business?

This chapter:

  • notes that the United States only gets 1 percent of its energy from solar or wind power.
  • explores innovative business models that are supplying solar energy to companies like Whole Foods.
  • notes that rooftop solar panels can only convert 15 to 20 percent of the sun's rays into electricity.
  • reports on the development of multi-junction solar cells that would absorb additional wavelengths from the sun.

running time 7:33

Chapter 6
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The Future Energy Mix

This chapter:

  • introduces research that draws on nanotechnology to make solar power more affordable.
  • looks at one scientist's goal to help the United States end its reliance on oil by the 2040s.
  • explores how solar power is providing new opportunities for education and economic expansion in developing countries.
  • concludes by noting that while most of the promising solar energy options will take years to come to the market, decisions need to be made now regarding future energy options.

running time 10:32

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© | Created October 2007