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I'm interested in sustainable energy like solar power, what major should i choose?

  1. May 28, 2009 #1
    i am planning to go for a bachelor in eletrical engineering, but im not sure if it is right for solar power.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 28, 2009 #2

    berkeman

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    Staff: Mentor

    Re: I'm interested in sustainable energy like solar power, what major should i choose

    It would be a fine start, IMO.
     
  4. May 28, 2009 #3

    Pengwuino

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    Re: I'm interested in sustainable energy like solar power, what major should i choose

    Going into physics and getting into condensed matter might also be a good path.
     
  5. May 29, 2009 #4
    Re: I'm interested in sustainable energy like solar power, what major should i choose

    For photovoltaics I would also say EE.
    For things such as solar heated boilers or wind energy I would say ME.
    For alternative fuels I would say ChemE.
     
  6. May 29, 2009 #5
    Re: I'm interested in sustainable energy like solar power, what major should i choose

    I don't know how it is broken down at other schools, but here at A&M they have different tracks for EE's. My bet would be an EE on the power tract would be your best bet.
     
  7. May 29, 2009 #6

    Astronuc

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    Re: I'm interested in sustainable energy like solar power, what major should i choose

    I concur. Also relevant courses in materials (materials science & engineering) would be beneficial.
     
  8. May 29, 2009 #7
    Re: I'm interested in sustainable energy like solar power, what major should i choose

    #1 discipline in my opinion for photovoltaics is chemistry followed closely by material science. Although condensed matter physics and electrical engineering aren't a bad way to go either but most of the development being done is by chemists. Every PV seminar I have gone to have been by inorganic and organic chemists.
     
  9. May 29, 2009 #8

    Dale

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    Re: I'm interested in sustainable energy like solar power, what major should i choose

    I'm going to take a different approach and say business or economics (or even political science). You can make improvements in PV efficiency with the chemistry or EE majors, but that is not why PV don't have any successful large-scale practical power applications. But if you really want to solve technical problems related to large-scale power applications from solar energy in general then I would recommend working on energy storage rather than solar energy itself.
     
  10. May 30, 2009 #9
    Re: I'm interested in sustainable energy like solar power, what major should i choose

    Could not disagree more. Chemists may do the "way out there" stuff, but the people doing practical work are engineers. MSE and EE are the two best fields for getting into solar cell research, in my opinion. I base this on the fact that the majority of the faculty working on solar cells at my institution are EE's.
     
  11. May 30, 2009 #10
    Re: I'm interested in sustainable energy like solar power, what major should i choose

    I can't vouch for chemists and how closely they are tied to photovoltaics, but I do agree with FirstYearGrad in that EE will set you up nicely for this and many EE professors I know are involved with solar cells.
     
  12. Jun 1, 2009 #11
    Re: I'm interested in sustainable energy like solar power, what major should i choose

    Are they working on the actual PV cells or just related components of it (i.e. current collectors, control systems, substrates, etc)? The majority of PV work done at my institution has been done by EEs as well but none of their research projects are actually developing new cells. The latest and greatest actual PV development IMO is in the area of dye-sensitized solar cells, much which involves finding new inorganic materials for catalysts and redox shuttles. Both things that are typically done by chemists and physical chemists and not EEs.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dye-sensitized_solar_cell
    (check where the references are from)
     
  13. Jun 1, 2009 #12
    Re: I'm interested in sustainable energy like solar power, what major should i choose

    One of my advisors is a professor of organic chemistry whose research focuses on development of useful porphyrins for eventual use in solar cells. This is just another aspect of the materials science side of things.
     
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