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Understanding the Social Value of Solar Energy Production in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area

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With an abundance of sunshine, the state of Arizona has the potential for producing large amounts of solar energy. However, in recent years Arizona has also become the focal point in a political battle to determine the value and future

With an abundance of sunshine, the state of Arizona has the potential for producing large amounts of solar energy. However, in recent years Arizona has also become the focal point in a political battle to determine the value and future of residential solar energy fees, which has critical implications for distributed generation. As the debate grows, it is clear that solar policies developed in Arizona will influence other state regulators regarding their solar rate structures and Net Energy Metering; however, there is a hindrance in the progress of this discussion due to the varying frameworks of the stakeholders involved. For this project, I set out to understand and analyze why the different stakeholders have such conflicting viewpoints. Some groups interpret energy as a financial and technological object while others view it is an inherently social and political issue. I conducted research in three manners: 1) I attended public meetings, 2) hosted interviews, and 3) analyzed reports and studies on the value of solar. By using the SRP 2015 Rate Case as my central study, I will discuss how these opposing viewpoints do or do not incorporate various forms of justice such as distributive, participatory, and recognition justice. In regards to the SRP Rate Case, I will look at both the utility- consumer relationship and the public meeting processes in which they interact, in addition to the pricing plans. This work reveals that antiquated utility structures and a lack of participation and recognition justice are hindering the creation of policy changes that satisfy both the needs of the utilities and the community at large.

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2015-12

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Synthesis and characterization of dyes with solar energy applications

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The sun provides Earth with a virtually limitless source of energy capable of sustaining all of humanity's needs. Photosynthetic organisms have exploited this energy for eons. However, efficiently converting solar radiation into a readily available and easily transportable form is

The sun provides Earth with a virtually limitless source of energy capable of sustaining all of humanity's needs. Photosynthetic organisms have exploited this energy for eons. However, efficiently converting solar radiation into a readily available and easily transportable form is complex. New materials with optimized physical, electrochemical, and photophysical properties are at the forefront of organic solar energy conversion research. In the work presented herein, porphyrin and organometallic dyes with widely-varied properties were studied for solar energy applications. In one project, porphyrins and porphyrin-fullerene dyads with aniline-like features were polymerized via electrochemical methods into semiconductive thin films. These were shown to have high visible light absorption and stable physical and electrochemical properties. However, experimentation using porphyrin polymer films as both the light absorber and semiconductor in a photoelectrochemical cell showed relatively low efficiency of converting absorbed solar energy into electricity. In separate work, tetra-aryl porphyrin derivatives were examined in conjunction with wide-bandgap semiconductive oxides TiO2 and SnO2. Carboxylic acid-, phosphonic acid-, and silatrane-functionalized porphyrins were obtained or synthesized for attachment to the metal oxide species. Electrochemical, photophysical, photoelectrochemical, and surface stability studies of the porphyrins were performed for comparative purposes. The order of surface linkage stability on TiO2 in alkaline conditions, from most stable to least, was determined to be siloxane > phosphonate > carboxylate. Finally, porphyrin dimers fused via their meso and beta positions were synthesized using a chemical oxidative synthesis with a copper(II) oxidant. The molecules exhibit strong absorption in the visible and near-infrared spectral regions as well as interesting electrochemical properties suggesting possible applications in light harvesting and redox catalysis.

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2012