April 17, 2017
National Park College (NPC) Math and Sciences Division’s April Lunch and Lecture Series featured solar expert Bob Nagy. Nagy presented, “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Solar Power, But Were Afraid to Ask.”
Nagy spent his career working for the University of Texas in Austin, National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) in Houston, and ABC News. He is now chief engineer of Arkansas' only Solar-powered FM radio station, KUHS in Hot Springs. He teaches beginning solar classes in Hot Springs and online at greenpowervideos.com, and teaches part-time for the NPC Innovative Technologies Center.
The lecture included explanation of two types of solar power, active and passive. Active solar power includes windmills, photovoltaic (PV) panels, hydroelectric, and bio mass. Passive methods include designing homes for solar gain and thermal mass storage. He said virtually all energy comes from the sun, and most other forms of energy are converted sunlight. “Every time you convert energy, some energy is lost,” Nagy stated. He reported that the U.S. has four percent of the world population, but uses 30 percent of the energy resources. He added that the U.S. only holds two percent of the world’s oil reserves.
Nagy emphasized that rather than maintain a “hunters and gatherers” approach to energy, we need to become farmers of energy. Other areas of the world are moving forward with renewable energy, including Germany who will be 50 percent solar in three years, and China who is the largest producer of renewable energy.
Nagy said photovoltaic solar is the least expensive method and requires little to no maintenance. He explained the two main types of solar systems. Grid tie systems are directly connected to commercial power mains. They push power to the grid during day and pull power from the grid at night. Battery based systems charge a large bank of batteries used to power your home at night. He discussed how large a solar set-up one would need to power a home and recommended homeowners consider how much power they use and what budget they have to spend.
The presentation also covered investment and payback and energy efficiency. Nagy named attic insulation, leaky air conditioning and heating ducts, leaky windows, inefficient appliances, and inefficient HVAC systems as the majors concerns for energy efficiency.
Nagy offers a five-hour training course on three DVDs that is available free to those interested in solar panel projects at GreenPowerVideos.com. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.