Green Sheet (pdf)

ESCI 61 - 3.0 Units

Instructors: Ridha Hamidi
Hours: Three Hours Lecture

  • Lecture: Wednesdays in room KC 239 5:30 p.m. - 8:20 p.m.

Instructor's Contact Information

  • Email: and (please put ESCI 61 in the subject box of all emails)
  • Office Location:KC 212
  • Office Hours Held: W 4:30 - 5:30 p.m. by appointment only
  • Phone/Voicemail: 408.864.8999 Ext. 3159
  • ES Dept website:

Course Description

An introduction to the fundamentals of photovoltaic (PV) basics including how solar cells convert sunlight to electricity, solar potential, types of solar systems, system size requirement and design, net metering options, rebate programs, and related topics for your home or business. An emphasis on the benefits of renewable energy technology as well as how to understand and review multiple bids and analyzing the economics of a PV installation. Good introductory course for students considering the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certification program. Out-of-class field trips may be required for this course.
Course Objectives
After completing this course you should be able to:

  1. Explore the terminology, science and applications of photovoltaic (PV) technology
  2. Examine existing and potential applications of photovoltaic (PV) power systems
  3. Assess PV system design strategies
  4. Analyze opportunities for buying green power and educating the public, public agencies, elected officials and other stakeholders utilizing energy resources.

Expanded Description: Content and Form
A. Explore the terminology, science and applications of photovoltaic (PV) technology

  1. Basic terminology of photovoltaic (PV) including solar angle potential and orientation, solar cells, types of solar cells including thin film, monocrystalline and polycrystalline cells for walls, windows or roof shingles
  2. Building integrated Photovoltaic Systems (BIPV)
  3. Mounting techniques of PV systems including roof and ground and tracking systems
  4. Science of electron flow, semiconductors including how solar cells convert sunlight to electricity and materials used in solar cell production
  5. Overview of electricity production and electric power systems

B. Examine existing and potential applications of photovoltaic (PV) power systems

  1. PV potential and factors impacting output
  2. PV applications including panels of solar cells and solar shingles
  3. Benefits of PV power
  4. Barriers to PV power
  5. Selecting and procuring a PV system

C. Assess PV system design strategies

  1. System sizing for specific applications
  2. System orientation
  3. Electronics for PV systems to calculate performance, cost and payback
  4. Battery backup and stand alone PV systems
  5. Life cycle cost analysis (the economics of PV) techniques
  6. Rebate analysis

D. Analyze opportunities for buying green power and educating the public, public agencies, elected officials and other stakeholders utilizing energy resources

  1. The benefits of green energy including PV technology
  2. An overview of green energy and initiatives including the California Solar Initiative
  3. Green power opportunities including the cost benefits of solar (renewable) energy versus heavily subsidized fossil fuel technologies (nonrenewable energy)
  4. Green power related policies including local, state and federal laws and regulation and utilities as key stakeholders

Course Material

Textbooks: no textbook is required for this class but students are advised to read the following book

- Photovoltaic Systems by James P. Dunlop, in partnership with NJATC

Students are required to read the following documents:

- A Consumer's Guide: Get Your Power from the Sun (Brochure)

- A Guide to PV Design and Installation


  • Quizzes: 50 points
  • Homework Assignments: 50 points
  • Final Exam: 50 points
  • Final Project: 50 points
  • Attendance: 10 points (extra credit)

Total possible points 210

Your accumulated total points are compared to 200, and your letter grade is determined as follows:

Grade % of total Points
A+ > 97% > 193
A 93%-97% 185-193
A- 89%-92% 178-184
B+ 86%-89% 171-177
B 81%-85% 162-170
B- 78%-81% 155-161
C+ 74%-77% 148-154
C 70%-74% 139-147
C- 66%-69% 132-138
D+ 63%-66% 125-131
D 58%-62% 116-124
D- 55%-58% 109-115
F < 55% < 109


Be prepared to:
  1. Attend all classes! Students who miss more than 2 sessions will be automatically withdrawn.
  2. Participate in team assignments in and outside of class time
  3. Work with a team to design a photovoltaic project


  1. Individual assignment: each student will complete three homework assignments
  2. Team assignment: students will participate in designing and sizing a photovoltaic project

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Assess (apply) the criteria necessary to be successful in the Introduction to Photovoltaic Technology class.
2. Investigate and communicate the fundamentals of solar electricity (including conversion of sunlight to electricity, solar potential and types of solar systems) and the role of this form of renewable energy in establishing a sustainable society.

General Information

1. This is an intensive environmental science course!
2. Class protocol for each day of lecture:
  • Class begins promptly at 5:30 pm
4. Stewardship Resource Center (SRC) protocol:
  • Daily activities (ie computer research) may be scheduled at the SRC
  • Computer check-out by team requires one student ID
  • Stay with your computer at all times – do not leave unattended! Someone should always be at your station!

5. Students are expected to exhibit proper indoor and outdoor classroom etiquette: arrive to class on time, participate in all activities, do not talk during lecture & no cell phones or other such devices on! Disruptive student behavior will result in an F in the class and the student will be dropped from the class.

Class Schedule




Week 1
  • Introduction to PV Systems
Week 2
  • Solar Radiation, Sun-Earth Relationships

 Homework #1 assigned 

Week 3
  • PV Cells, Modules, and Arrays

Week 4

  • PV System Components and Configurations

 Homework #1 due

Week 5

  • PV Site Surveys

 Homework #2 assigned

 Quiz #1 assigned

Week 6

  • Basics of Electricity for PV Systems

Week 7

  • PV System Sizing

 Homework #2 due

 Homework #3 assigned

Week 8

  • Field Trip #1
  • Review Session

 Quiz #2 assigned

Week 9

  • Mechanical & Electrical Integrations of a PV System

 Homework #3 due

Week 10

  • Economic Analysis of a PV System, Net Metering, Rebate Programs

 Quiz #3 assigned

Week 11

  • Field Trip #2
  • Review Session

Week 12

  • PV Project Presentations

 Final Project Report due

 Final Exam assigned

 * Group Assignments: 50 points

 * Class Journal: 50 points

 * Homework Assignments: 50 points

 * Final Project: 50 points

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