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Author

Project Drawdown

Grades

9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College

Subjects

Science, Social Studies, Earth and Space Sciences, Economics, Engineering

Resource Types

  • Article
  • Data

Regional Focus

Global

Utility-Scale Solar Photovoltaics

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Synopsis
  • This article discusses the difference between utility-scale solar photovoltaics (PVs) and conventional power plants, the growth of solar PVs since 2005, and how many CO2 equivalent emissions could be reduced if utility-scale solar PVs continue to grow.
  • Students will read about the benefits of using solar panels to generate electricity, the cost savings and expected reductions in emissions by 2050, and the feasibility of two different adoption scenarios.
Teaching Tips

Positives

  • This article has a robust references section and additional resources to explore.
  • This article acknowledges that energy use needs to decrease (through efficiency and less waste) in order to properly mitigate climate change.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should understand how electricity is generated in fuel-based plants to see the huge benefit of solar PVs for air quality, land conservation, water quality, and toxic waste reduction.
  • If you click a link in the references section, you won't be taken to a new tab.

Differentiation

  • To assess prior knowledge, the teacher can ask the class questions about solar panels before reading the article and have them research the process of electricity generation.
  • Students can use this article for a persuasive essay on why the world needs to quickly transition to renewable energy sources and the economic incentives to do so.
  • This article can support a classroom discussion on the American government's effectiveness at moving the country towards renewable energy or on the connection between energy usage and socioeconomic status.
  • Science classes can utilize this article as an example of a brief scientific paper. Have students use it as a guide to create their own report from a lab experiment or research assignment.
Scientist Notes
This resource provides a discussion on the use of solar power. An introduction is provided discussing the use of solar power, along with the expected growth. A methodology to using solar power is discussed that provides example markets that can make the change to solar power, along with scenarios and a financial model. A results and discussion section round out the topic on utility scale solar power. This resource would be a great addition to a classroom discussion about alternative power sources being utilized at a large scale and it is recommended for teaching.
Standards

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • English Language Arts
    • Reading: Informational Text (K-12)
      • RI.11-12.2 Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development and how they interact to provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.
  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-4. Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • HS-ETS1-1. Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.
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