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Test your Solar - Power IQ

Everyone's talking about solar power. But do you know
what they're talking about? How much do you know about solar power? See how you do in this quiz.

1. Which of these locations gets the most electricity from solar power?
A. Arizona
B. Denmark
C. Germany
D. Spain
E. New Jersey

Answer: C. Thanks to generous government incentives, more electricity is generated by solar panels in Germany than anywhere else, even though it's not exactly a sunny place. In 2009 enough panels were installed there to generate about three gigawatts of electricity annually - more than half of the total capacity installed world-wide last year. In the U.S., California leads, with New Jersey second.

2. Which of these U.S. presidents installed solar panels at the White House?
A. Richard Nixon
B. Jimmy Carter
C. Ronald Reagan
D. Bill Clinton
E. George W. Bush

Answer: B. and E. In 1979, President Carter's White House installed solar panels on the roof of the West Wing to heat water. They were removed in 1986 during the Reagan administration when the roof was being repaired, and were never replaced. In 2002, new solar panels were placed on the White House grounds to heat water and generate electricity.

3. How much electricity would a solar panel rated at 100 watts produce on a sunny day in Washington, D.C.?
A. 100 watts
B. 85 watts
C. 60 watts
D. 50 watts

Answer: B. A solar panel should produce about 85% of its rated wattage in strong sunlight in the Washington area, with the rest lost to various inefficiencies, according to the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The total will differ depending on your location. You can plug your location and rated wattage into a calculator at this website: http://rredc.nrel.gov/solar/calculators/PVWATTS/version1/ 

4. Which famous scientist received a Nobel Prize for his work in solar energy?
A. Thomas Edison
B. Albert Einstein
C. Nikola Tesla
D. Georg Ohm

Answer: B. In 1921 the Nobel Prize in physics went to Albert Einstein for his explanation of the photoelectric effect - the ejection of electrons from the surface of a metal in response to light. In a solar photovoltaic panel, sunlight hitting the surface causes electrons to flow, which creates an electrical current.

5. Which country or region leads in manufacturing solar panels?
A. China
B. Europe
C. Japan
D. North America

Answer: A. In 2009 China produced about 36% of all solar panels made world-wide, according to Photon Consulting LLC. It took the lead from Europe, which had an 18% share. Japan was third at 16% and North America, primarily the U.S., fourth at 8%.

6. In the U.S., solar power is most commonly used to do what?
A. Provide electricity in the home
B. Power large retail centers
C: Deliver electricity to the grid
D. Heat water for swimming pools
E. Heat water for household use

Answer: D. As of the end of 2008, about 7,000 megawatts of solar power was installed for heating pools, compared with 1,100 megawatts for all other uses.

7. What is the approximate cost to produce electricity from solar power in the U.S.?
A. Five cents per kilowatt-hour
B. 10 cents per kilowatt-hour
C. 25 cents per kilowatt-hour
D. 35 cents per kilowatt-hour

That's more than twice the cost of power generated by coal and natural gas, which come in below 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, according to "benchmark" figures from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The price of solar power depends largely on where it is produced.

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