Solar and Wind Power

Chapter 16 Activity 2: Solar and Wind Power

Introduction: In this activity you’ll explore the geography of solar and wind energy in the US broadly, and solar energy in Massachusetts specifically.

Instructions: Be sure to use a distinct font color or highlighting of your responses so I can identify them within the document. Once completed, save your answers and upload to Blackboard before the deadline.

Part 1: The Geography of Solar and Wind Energy in the US

Visit the US Energy Information Administration 

  • Click on the”Learn About Energy” drop down tab in the very top-right corner of the screen
  • Select”Solar”
  • In the list of topics on the left-hand side of the screen under”Solar”, click on “Where Solar is Found”.
  1. Looking at the two US maps on the right hand side of the web page,how does Massachusetts compare with the rest of the US in terms of potential for PV and concentrated solar energy?
  2. What is the climate factor that makes the southeastern part of the US have less potential for solar energy compared with the southwestern part of the US?Sunlight or daylight is not the correct answer, as these locations have approximately the same day length throughout the year and seasons. 


  • Once again, Click on the “Learn About Energy”dropdown tab in the very top-right corner of the screen
  • Select “Wind”
  • In the list of topics under “Wind” on the left-hand side of the screen, click on “Where Wind Power is Harnessed”


  1. Looking at the map at the top-right of the page, which areas of the US have the highest wind speeds? 
  2. Looking at the map at the bottom-right of the page, you see the five states are the largest wind power producing states. Of those five states, which is not in the region you mentioned in the previous question? Why do you think it is a top producer?
  3. Besides the US, which other countriesmake up the five countries with the most production of electricity from wind energy?






Part 2: Solar Energy in Massachusetts


Open the Google Project Sunroof site and enter your home address (or any Massachusetts address you’d like to use for this is fine). Zoom out “one click” so you can see not only your house, but some of the homes in your neighborhood.

  1. Take a screenshot of your map and paste below.





  1. Given a $100/month electric bill, how many square feet of solar panels is recommended?


  1. What percentage of your electricity usage would these solar panels cover?



  1. When you look at your roof, and the roofs of structures in your neighborhood, what is it that is determining the color of yellow versus purple?


  • Go back to the main Google Project Sunroof
  • Click on the link “Explore your area” found below the search box
  • In the page that opens, enter Massachusetts in the search box and enter

In the map that appears, you’ll notice that not the entire state has been mapped, just certain areas.

  • Zoom into eastern Massachusetts so you can see both the Boston and Providence areas in your map.


  1. Notice how the urban areas (like Boston and Providence) have overall higher sunlight on roofs than the surrounding towns and communities. Why is this? Hint: Building height might have some impact, but can you think of another reason?




Last Updated on April 5, 2019

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