Physics By: Sabina, Kiera, Amanda

Introduction to Renewable Energy

What is renewable energy?

  • Renewable energy is energy that can be exhausted
  • Examples include solar, geothermal, wind power and hydroelectricity.
  • Solar Energy is conducted through solar panels made of photovoltaic material. The material absorbs the sun rays and converts it to direct current electricity (DC).
  • Geothermal energy is when they take heat from the inner mantle of the earth (50 degrees). It is a more clean and sustainable way and it is taken from the ground to hot water to the hotter temperatures called magma. There are many ways people can extract geothermal energy such as using heat pump systems.
  • Direct geothermal energy is directly from hot water and piped directly to heat homes and buildings. After, it is pumped through a heat exchanger and changed into water to go into the building's heating system.
  • Geothermal power plants are drilled into the ground. Fluid circulates through pipes that are connected under water sources such as lakes or ponds. A heat exchanger pulls the heat from the pipes and goes through the duct system.
  • Geothermal power plants are hot water and steam is piped underground to produce electricity.
  • Solar Energy is conducted through solar panels made of photovoltaic material. The material absorbs the the sun rays and then converts it to direct current electricity (DC).
  • Wind energy is harnessed by turbines when they rotate and power a generator to make electricity.
  • Hydroelectricity is using a reservoir of water in a dam. The water falls into a generator turbine changing it from kinetic energy to mechanical energy. Then the turbine turns it into electricity.

Introduction to Solar Energy

What is solar energy?

Solar power is energy from the sun. It's a renewable source of energy that is powerful and sustainable.

Without solar energy, there is no life as solar energy is considered to be an important source of energy for many years. This is because major amounts of energy is produced and replenished from the sun.

Different Types Of Solar Energy

Solar energy is a type of energy that is renewable. Energy from the sun is harnessed in two ways.

Energy From Sunlight-photovoltaic

  • Using sunlight directly into electricity.
  • This is done by using devices that convert light energy directly into electrical energy. The cells have semiconductors, which are made of silicon, alloys and other materials. The cell has both conducting and insulating properties which makes it capable of turning light into electricity. Light hits the cells and transfers their energy as electrons which will allows them to flow through as an electrical current. The current moves from the semiconductor to metal and out to the electric grid which provides electricity for your home.
  • There are different types of sizes of solar cells. Some small solar cells are found in calculators and some mobile phones.
  • Larger solar cells are used to power road signs and satellites that orbit around the earth.
  • Solar cells are also called photovoltaic cells or PV Devices.
  • Solar farms are where they have a large system of photovoltaic panels. They all harness UV rays and convert it into electricity, which is then routed to power grids nearby for distribution

Energy Using the Sun’s Hea-Thermal

  • This is capturing the sun's thermal/heat energy.
  • Heat is directly converted into mechanical energy which is then turned into electricity.
  • This is done by using solar thermal collectors, which reflects light onto a receiver. The receiver heats up the liquid and produces steam. This steam is passed through pipes which are used to rotate a turbine that is attached to a electric generator. This electric generator is attached to a system of wires and towers that connect to our homes.
  • Electricity is sent to homes through a transmission system that includes towers lines and sub stations.

How Does Solar Energy Work?

There are 5 main parts of a solar energy facility.

  1. Solar panels there are made up of photovoltaic cells that converts sunlight into direct current electricity.
  2. The inverter converts direct current electricity into alternating current electricity.
  3. The alternating current electricity is sent to the electrical panel to control appliances that use solar energy.
  4. Utility meter measures how much energy is consumed.
  5. Monitoring systems to track energy protection and check if the system is running smoothly.

Pros and Cons of Solar Energy


  • Sustainable as it is using alternative, inexhaustible resources instead of non-renewable resources.
  • Approximately 73,000 terawatts of solar energy shines down on the earth's surface every day, which is 10,000 times the daily global usage.
  • It has low environmental impact because the technology of the solar energy does not require any harmful fuels. It is only is dependent on photovoltaic solar cells.
  • It can be easily installed on rooftops, it's worth it for the long run because it gives a low cost supply power.
  • Reduces electricity bills immensely and saving costs which a family can benefit from.
  • Sunlight is available all around the world and can be easily harnessed by the whole earth. .
  • Solar panels life spans are up to 20-25 years.


  • Solar energy is energy that only generates while the sun is present, where the nighttime can prevent the energy from generating.
  • Solar energy takes up a significant amount of land, which affects the wilderness and ecosystems by loss of habitats. This effect on the wilderness can be diminished by building solar panel facilities in areas of low-quality environments.
  • Certain solar panel technologies have rare materials that are required for the production of photovoltaic cells.
  • These materials can become expensive at market value and much more expensive than fossil fuels.

Why Is Solar Energy Important?

  • Solar energy is important because it helps reduce greenhouse gases and reduce climate change.
  • Solar energy is also important for satellites because they are designed to use photovoltaic panels to absorb sunlight. This converts it into electricity that is used to function the satellite.
  • In Australia, the research facilities depends on sustainable resources such as wind and solar power to generate power.
  • Solar energy is also very important for streetlights as they are able to charge energy from the sun during the day and run throughout the night.

How Is Solar Energy Sustainable?

  • “Sustainability is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the needs in the future”. - United Nations
  • Solar energy is renewable and unlimited unlike non renewable sources such as fossil fuels, using solar power is low maintenance and reduces energy bills on the long run.
  • As well, it is clean energy meaning that it does not release any greenhouse, noise pollution, or toxic waste in the atmosphere while generating electricity.
  • There is more enough solar power to meet the needs of the entire planet which can be part of the solution to fight climate change.

Impacts of Solar Energy


Land Use and Ecological

  • Solar energy facilities require large areas.
  • Building these facilities can disrupt existing land usage, such as recreational areas and the surrounding wilderness.
  • These changes can be irreversible, however, this impact can be minimized by building facilities in areas of low use.

Soil, Water And Air Resources

  • Construction on soil facilities affects soil composition which increases erosion.
  • Tower systems are required to have consumption of water cooling as it concerns in certain settings, where an increase of water can interrupt other water resources.
  • Construction of solar energy power plants affects the air quality which releases soil carried pathogens which releases in air particulate matter that affects the contamination of water.

Recycling Solar Panels

  • Not enough locations for recycling old solar panels.
  • Recycling solar panels is important because the materials used for making solar panels are rare and can be reused, such as silver, thallium and indium.
  • Silicon is essential for photovoltaic cells, where silicon-based solar cells are needed for production of large amounts of energy in the manufacturing process. The source of the energy that is used to manufacture silicon is coal, which affects the carbon footprint.


  • Solar power is very impactful in society because of two main reasons:

Job Opportunities

  • Cities and companies build solar facilities, which creates jobs for people like workers who need to plan the project and builders who build the solar energy plant.
  • Many jobs can be occupied by workers to utilize solar energy facilities which generates electricity. This will help decrease the unemployment rates.


  • Generating energy from solar panels emits much less pollution than non-renewable sources, which helps maintain air quality.
  • Solar energy does not damage the atmosphere or cause global warming. This means that it does not contribute to the effects of pollution, such as increasing sea levels and intensifying storms.


Solar energy helps the economical aspects because:

  • It creates about ten, one hundred, or thousands of jobs for workers depending on the size of the task.
  • In Canada about 8000 employees are in the solar power industry.
  • The Green Energy Act had been launched in 2009 and about 26 billion dollars has been invested in Ontario. About 20,000 clean energy jobs have been created in addition to another 50,000 jobs had been created in 2012.
  • Ontario is known to be the 10th largest user in solar farms in the country and the leading solar energy producer in Canada.
  • By 2025 the solar industry will be offering 35,000 jobs and 15 to 30 million greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced.
  • 30 companies have been investing in Ontario for a clean energy economy, including solar wind energy companies.
  • Using more solar energy will reduce the need for coal, oil and gas, which are all non-renewable resources. This results in the decrease of shipping export costs which will bring more economic value to their own countries compared to others.
  • Government spendings get cut down and can use large amounts of savings by installing solar panels on roofs.
  • The average 5 kilowatt system is about 18,000 dollars in Ontario, however it varies in different provinces.

Plans to Reduce Electricity

1. Solar power

Solar power is an alternative renewable resource to reduce electricity. The reasons why are:

  • It's good for the environment and produces no harmful emissions. It uses the sun as a natural resource.
  • It's a home investment that helps the family save electricity bills each month. In some cases, it will increase your property value.
  • Solar panel systems are not damaged easily. It is tested to still survive in good conditions in temperatures like heavy snowfall or rain.
  • It has a 30 year warranty that includes fixing any problems if required.
  • Solar energy can be used all day, using daylight to produce energy even on cloudy days, rainy days.

2. At Home

Timing Electricity use

  • Winter lowest price to use electricity is between 7pm-7am
  • Summer lowest price to use electricity is between 7pm-7am
  • Cut phantom power. This includes electronics that use power even when it’s not used, such as televisions. This can be reduced by unplugging devices when not being utilized.
  • Insulating roof or ceiling, and shading your windows will help control temperature in summer and winter. This also reduces energy consumption.

3. Government Initiatives

  • Canada is promoting clean energy by increasing clean energy production and use of alternative resources such as solar panels also reducing coal energy.
  • Eco Energy is an Canadian Organization that promotes production of renewable energy that has less effects on the environment.
  • The Eco Energy program helps Canadians with their energy use and delivers initiatives that increases energy efficiency in Canada.
  • 2011-2012 they saved more than 5 petajoules in energy (5 x 10^15 joules).
  • As well they fund clean energy projects in Aboriginal and northern communities. This 20 year project will decrease greenhouse gases emissions by 0.9 metric tonnes.
  • In addition, the Liberal party is planning to phase out use of coal electricity by 2030.
  • This will decrease the development of smog-related illness, enhance a more sustainable future, and increase use of electricity that does not contribute to greenhouse gas.

Current Electricity

1. What Is Current Electricity?

Current electricity is a steady flow of electrons in a conductor in a controlled way. This is the type of electricity we use in our everyday lives. In contrast, static electricity happens when electrons build up in one place then move randomly in many directions. Current electricity needs a source of energy (ie. electric generator) to create a flow of electrons.

Current electricity will flow easily through a conductor and poorly through an insulator, This is because conductors will accept electrons more readily.

What Is A Circuit?

A circuit is a complete path where electric current can flow. A circuit consists of:

  1. A source of energy(batteries)
  2. A load (An object that uses electricity)
  3. A control device (A switch that controls if a device is on or off)
  4. Conductors (Provides a path for electricity to flow)

The 2 Types of Circuits

Series Circuit:

  • Series Circuit: A series circuit is a straight single path that allows electricity to flow in one direction. Materials in a circuit are connected in only one way with no branches. As well, current flows in a single path and is the same at each point in the current. If one load stops working, the entire circuit breaks it connection. Some examples include Christmas lights, flashlights, and light bulbs that are controlled by a switch.
  • Parallel Circuit: A parallel circuit has multiple branches that allows electricity to flow in many pathways. Current flowing in the circuit is divided between each branch. Due to this, if one load stops working, the rest of the loads can still work since each branch is separated. This also means that loads can be switched on/off independently. Examples include electrical fuse circuits, televisions, and computers.

What happens when we add more loads?

Series Circuit

  • When more loads (lightbulbs) are added, the voltage has to be divided among all the lightbulbs. This makes the light bulbs dimmer compared to if it was just one light bulb in the circuit. This increases resistance, lowers current, and lowers voltage across each bulb.

Parallel Circuit

  • Adding branches will not alter the amount of current flowing through each branch. Adding more loads will glow as brightly as the others and will not become dimmer, unlike series circuits. This is also because of a higher voltage across each load, as it is not divided between the branches.

2. Current Electricity Calculations

What are Resistance, Current, and Potential Difference?

  • Potential Difference is the difference in voltage between 2 points in a circuit.
  • Current is the flow of electricity.
  • Resistance is a opposition of the circuit to the flow of current. This converts electrical energy into heat or light. This is why wires can become overheated.
  • To calculate potential difference (V), we need to multiply current (I) and resistance. (R)
  • To calculate current, (I), we need to divide potential difference (V) from resistance. (R)
  • To calculate resistance, (R) we need to divide potential difference (V) from current. (I)

Practice Problem on Calculating Current, Potential Difference, and Resistance

How much current flows through a 16 V battery that has a resistance of 5.1 Ω?

  • I=V/R
  • I= (16V)/(5.1Ω)
  • I=3.1A
  • Therefore, 3.1 amperes of current is flowing through a 16 V battery that has a resistance of 5.1 Ω.

What is the potential difference across an electrical load that has a resistance of 4 Ω and a current of 3 A flowing through it?

  • V=IxR
  • V=3Ax4Ω
  • V=12V
  • Therefore, 12 volts is the potential difference of an electrical load that has a resistance of 4 Ω and a current of 3 A flowing through it.

3. Current Electricity in Society

Current electricity is very important in society. This is because current electricity is used to power almost all devices such as:

  • Starting a car.
  • A car has a electrical circuit with a power battery.
  • All circuits are opened and closed by switches.
  • Current electricity flows through a cable from a battery through the car's body, then the car's body is connected to the earth terminal of the battery by a thick cable.
  • This type of circuit is called the earth system as any part of the car bodies is to be earthed.
  • Most cars have 12 volts battery, however if the battery voltage decreases, the less current it will flow and the components of the car will stop working.
  • Watching Tv- Most tv use up 80-400 watts, depending on the size. They usually consume 5 percent of the electrical usage in homes.
  • Charging cell phones- Charging cell phones uses up 2-6 watts. When the charger is left plugged in, it will still use 0.1-0.5 watts. This is an example of phantom power.
  • Current electricity is described to have a low voltage and high current.

Static Electricity

  • Electricity is usually carried by the atom, consisting of protons (+) and electrons (-).
  • Static electricity is when protons and and electrons are not equal between 2 materials
  • Static build up can occur when friction is created between 2 materials and the protons and neutrons are not distributed equally to the materials.
  • During the frictional process some charges can be changed and through this process, you can gain or lose charges. This process is also known as turboelectric effect.
  • If a material that is statically charged makes contact with a flammable substance, it could result in a fire or an explosion.
  • Static energy can be harnessed and changed from mechanical energy to electricity.
  • When the static buildup is released, it is called electrical discharge.
  • Static is used to reduce pollution by charging the particles in the air and attracting them to a collector. (these collectors are called electrostatic precipitators).
  • Static can be used for painting cars. They give the car a positive electrical charge and then the paint a negative electrical charge. The paint is then sprayed and clings to the body of the car.
  • Photocopiers use a similar method to make photocopies
  • Clouds cause friction between each other when moving. The electrical discharge from the clouds can be very severe (lightning). If lightning strikes you it can be fatal.
  • If discharge is strong enough you can die of electrocution.


  • A conductor can disperse electrons equally around an object or material allowing electricity to flow through the material.
  • An insulator does not allow electricity to flow through the material because the electrons cannot move as freely which forces them to stay in point of initial contact.

A good conductor/examples:

  • Lets electrons flow freely through the material.
  • Disperses electrons evenly through material.
  1. Copper
  2. Silver
  3. Aluminum
  4. Gold
  5. Steel
  6. Brass


  • Semiconductors are conductors that only work in certain conditions and can be varied by current, voltage, ultra violet rays etc.
  1. Carbon
  2. Silicon
  3. Boron
  4. Arsenic
  5. Sulfur


  • Insulators trap electrons from dispersing.
  • Keep us safe when we are using materials that have current flowing through cords.
  1. Water
  2. Wood
  3. Plastic
  4. Air
  • The Electrostatic Series is a summary of a substance’s tendency to be positive or negative.
  • It helps in determining whether it is more likely to gain or lose electrons.

AC vs DC

  • AC means Alternating Current.
  • DC means Direct Current.
  • DC is usually powered by a battery.
  • AC changes direction periodically.
  • AC is used to power bigger units.
  • AC works by a magnetic field that goes through wire coils when the magnetic field turns it produces AC electricity (works in reference to Faraday's law).
  • DC circuit has a magnet, wire coils and carbon connections.
  • The copper coils are a conductor for the electricity the magnets rotation creates the energy and the carbon connectors.
  • The carbon connectors are on top to make the current only go in one direction.
  • AC is more beneficial when there is higher voltages and currents, it's more sustainable and is cheaper labor to make because the circuit is simpler.
  • With ac circuits you can add a transformer.
  • Can either increase or decrease voltage.
  • Secondary coil (uncharged) and primary is charged.
  • If you send the power to the coil with less turns than you are powering down if you send it to the coil with more rotations you get a higher voltage.
  • Voltmeter calculates the voltage if electric potential in a circuit.
  • Has galvanometer that's sensitive a series with a high resistance means that the voltmeter internally is very high.
  • Digital will tell you the actual voltage in numbers (as long as it's within range).
  • Measured in
  • Ammeter is electronic unit used to measure amps in a circuit.
  • Measures current through the copper coils from either the primary or secondary and tells you the amps on the unit itself.
  • Multimeter can measure amps and volts along with current and resistance.
  • The formula for calculating resistance is: 1/Rt = 1/R1 + 1/R2 + 1/R3 Rt means resistance total. Steps are: Figure out the resistance of each channel, substitute in for the denominator then divide each one by the numerator. After, add them all up then move the one over to the right hand side of the equal sign and then then divide numerator by denominator then use unit “ohms”.
  • The formula for calculating current: I= deltaQ/delta T means time in seconds. Q means charge in coulombs. The formula for calculating potential energy: V=W/Q. W means Energy transferred or the joules Q means Charge in coulombs.

Introduction to Nonrenewable

Nonrenewable energy is energy that can not be used multiple times.

Examples are fossil fuels, coal, minerals.

Fossil fuels

  • Fossil fuels are hydrocarbons, primarily coal, fuel oil or natural gas, formed from the remains of dead plants and animals. (taken directly from)
  • In order to get fossil fuels you need to extract them from the ground. 2 ways of extracting fossil fuels is by mining, drilling.


  • Coal is a form of a fossil fuel. Coal is a combustible rock made up of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, ash, and sulfur.
  • No matter how deep down the coal is you still have to mine to get it.


  • Minerals are naturally occurring substances such as salt, pencils, and stones. Things such as steel are not minerals because they are not natural.
  • The most common mineral found in the earth's crust is oxygen followed by silicon.

Energy Use

  • Different things use different amount of energy. For example a space heater uses about 1500 watts, where something like a toaster uses about 1200 watts of energy. Other things that use various amounts of energy are: a dehumidifier uses approximately 350 watts, a ceiling fan uses approximately 60 watts. A watt is a unit of power.

Energy transfer

  • Electricity has 2 types of currents. One is AC which stands for alternating currents and the second is direct currents. Friction is when 2 object that can generate even the smallest amount of energy rub together and create heat or static. An example of friction could be when you rub your hands together which generates heat. Electricity can be transferred in a number of different ways. Some of those ways are from person to person, for example when you shock someone. From clothing to other clothing or materials.

Resources (how does wind energy) (how hydroelectricity works)

How Does Solar Energy Work?


Pros and Cons of Solar Energy


Why Is Solar Energy Important?


How Is Solar Energy Sustainable?






Look for costs of solar energy usage for the government


Plans to Reduce Electricity

  • (solar)
  • (just use reason #2)
  • (Beware, lots of information…)
  • (Skip to CLEAN ENERGY)
  • (Reducing coal energy)

Current Electricity

3. Current Electricity in Society (examples of how we use current electricity)

Static Electricity



Introduction to Nonrenewable

Energy Use

Energy transfer


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