Category Archives: Solar

Examples of Renewable Energy Projects Current Underway

Concerns about the future of our environment are causing many companies to look into renewable energy sources. Utility companies in many areas are making concentrated efforts to use renewable energy sources for the power they provide to customers.

They are building new power plants that operate on solar or wind power instead of fossil fuels. While this conversion is quite expensive to undergo, it will provide clean and inexpensive power sources when the projects are completed.

Of course, the government offers many grants and financial options for companies interested in converting. This fact alone can help renewable energy projects continue to grow in number and in success. After all, it only makes sense for companies to convert their operations to renewable energy processes if they will be reimbursed or even compensated by the government for doing so.

In these cases, it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved. The world benefits and the company can benefit as well. They don’t have to pay for conversion, they can do their part and they often get tax credits for agreeing to do so.

Other companies are taking the initiative to convert to solar or wind power as well. These changes will not affect the way they operate; they simply need to convert their present equipment to accommodate these renewable energy sources.

Colorado State University is working with experts in Denver to develop new and innovative ways to use wind energy. These efforts will not be overnight by any means but they will have a definite effect on the future of our world and its current non-renewable energy sources. There are many other efforts currently in the planning stages throughout the world.

Tidal And Wave Power – The Forgotten Energy Source

There is so much talk about solar energy and even wind energy, it is surprising the idea of tidal and wave power is going by the wayside. Granted, tidal and wave power is not of major interest to those communities which are located on islands.

But, for coastal residents, this could be a prime source of alternative energy. Nevertheless, with the focus being primarily on solar energy, the other kinds of energy generation appear to have been forgotten.

Perhaps it is the fact the federal government is currently looking for the kind of energy generation which will benefit the country as whole, as opposed to the kind of energy creating technology which only benefits small segments of the population. Nevertheless, this step does in many ways discount the contributions tidal and wave power would make, if given half a chance.

Of course, considering it would take significant fiscal infusions to set up a workable plan of energy harnessing, generation and distribution, it makes fiscally a lot of sense to focus on the program which benefits the most number of people.

On the flipside, it is this very need which might just open up the door to private enterprise. If allowed to explore the viability of tidal and wave power as opposed to solar energy, a new industry could take control of a potentially small portion of the overall energy market.

This step would necessitate a company willing to take a huge fiscal risk, able to follow through with technology and innovation, and then possess the right business model to make tidal and wave power and affordable energy product for the consumer.

Why Use Solar Energy?

In a world where humans consume more energy in a year than their ancestors did in ten years, finding renewable energy sources is vital. The truth is humans are not likely to cut back on their energy consumption any time in the near future. In fact, studies suggest energy consumption will continuously rise over time. With this in mind, solar energy is a very viable form of power.

Solar energy is a renewable energy which is easily harnessed without loads of technology involved. The sun provides free energy to anyone willing to utilize it! In addition to being a free source, it is quite effective. Many people are choosing to take small steps by using solar powered gardening lights. However, in the near future it’s expected humans will come to rely on solar power for much more than lighting a pathway in their yard.

Those who support solar energy progression agree there are multiple benefits. If most of America relied on solar energy, the country would no longer depend on foreign countries for a great deal of their non-renewable energy resources. In addition, the country would be much “greener”. In the process of collecting, harnessing and using solar power, there is no destruction done to the environment.

Solar energy can be used throughout all areas of life. It is currently being used in many homes to heat water, for air conditioning systems, for cooking, lighting and more. Those who utilize solar energy reap rewards like lower electric and water bills. Overall, solar energy is a great alternative energy source for those interested in going “green”.

Selling Power Back to the Utilities

Selling power back to your utility company can be easy. Essentially you use a solar or wind powered source for energy during the day and it supplies energy back to a grid, causing your utility meter to run backwards.

Then, when it is dark outside or windy, the meter starts to roll forward again. This helps to save hundreds or thousands of dollars each year in electrical bills.

Before you can start to use this type of system, you must contact your local utility company and file an interconnection agreement with them. This gives you the rights and regulations you have to abide by in order to use your solar or wind powered source for energy.

Currently over 40 states have laws in affect stating utility companies must allow some kind of interconnection agreement with its users. Most utilities companies will not mail you a check if you produce more energy than they do.

But, they may agree to roll over the dollar amount you saved towards the next month or a future month when you experience more usage. The government has recently started giving tax breaks to those using solar or wind power as electricity, giving them another great chance to save money.

The problem many people are encountering is solar powering is not stable. With a grid, solar power is transferred into energy. In most cases, only 10 to 15 percent of solar power has the ability to be transferred into use-able energy for sustaining a household.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is a research facility that is part of the United States Department Of Energy (DOE). The Research and Development expertise are with Renewable Electricity, Renewable Fuels, Integrated Energy Systems and Strategic Energy Analysis. These technologies are distributed by the Technology Transfer Office of the NREL whose main function is to introduce renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies to the public and the marketplace. These technologies can then be transferred into commercial products and businesses.

Some of the main technologies that are being researched are wind, solar, geothermal, hydro (water), biomass and even hydrogen fuel cells. Renewable energy is energy which can renew itself indefinitely, unlike fossil fuels which are non-renewable sources of energy.  These fossil fuels, such as oil, will eventually be gone. The NREL works to find alternative sources of energy which can be used for many practical applications.

Renewable energy is a concept becoming more popular with the energy crisis. More people are leaning towards these forms of energy. This energy is cleaner and greener. A problem is the initial cost for all these forms of energy is higher than the conventional fossil fuels. Some forms of renewable energy are dependent upon location. Wind energy would require some place with enough wind to sustain a wind farm.

Geothermal energy cannot be used in just any location. Solar power can be found in abundance, but the efficiency of converting sunlight into energy is still very low. With renewable energy we can continue to power our homes, drive our cars and continue life as we know it. In time these renewable energies will help save our planet.

US Department of Energy Grants for Solar Energy

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) grants millions of dollars for advancements in solar energy. Solar energy is a clean, abundant, widespread renewable energy source which can be used to generate electricity while decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. Solar cells are used to convert sunlight directly into electricity.

When the sunlight is absorbed by these solar cells, the solar energy knocks electrons off their atoms which will allow the electrons to flow through these cells to produce the electricity. This process is called photovoltaic effect. With the grants from the DOE, there is research to find more effective processes to use this photovoltaic effect. Competitiveness due to these grants will increase the effort to find practical and efficient uses of this process.

Solar power is a renewable energy source that is fairly cheap and can be used anywhere sunlight reaches. With the research done due to the grants provided by the DOE, the conversion of solar power to electricity will become more efficient. This can help with the current energy crisis. Fossil fuels, such as gas and oil, will eventually disappear. Solar power is out there in abundance.

Solar energy is becoming more common and popular in homes today. Homes can be heated and electricity can be provided inexpensively and reliably. This green method of providing energy can help save our planet. Cars, homes and many other commercial uses will be found to use solar power. All of this can be done without harming our environment.

The Benefits of Solar Power

Solar power is one form of renewable energy that does not require a lot of technology to harness. Always available, the sun provides the raw material for free to anyone who would harness it. As such, it is certain to cause the face of energy consumption and also energy technology over the next few decades.

As a matter of fact, it has been said solar power is going to change the way society interacts, educates the next generations and overall forms a global civilization will change drastically. This is all because of the conversion of the sun’s rays into usable energy.

The benefits of solar power are plentiful. Consider the fact a country is no longer subject to another for the use of energy or fuel creating raw materials and it becomes obvious rather quickly that this will lead to an appreciable shift in global power.

Furthermore, since this is one kind of energy that is entirely green there will be no destruction of the environment either when attempting to get the solar power or when hoping to collect it.

When it comes to the consumer, the benefits of solar power may be experienced in any and all situations that require energy. Whether it is the heating of water or a home, cooling applications, cooking, lighting, and also transportation, all of these needs may be met simply by the sun.

As a derivative, this technology also is going to offer a new breed of jobs to those who endeavor to become educated in the use of renewable energy.

Converting Solar Energy to Electricity: How it Works

Have you ever wondered how you could get the sun to cook your dinner, wash your laundry, or at least power the appliances that will be instrumental in these tasks? If so, you are not alone.

Converting solar energy to electricity – how it works in the nitty gritty – has been hard to understand for some, while others see it as one of the simplest tasks that even surpasses the current generation of electricity with the help of turbines.

When converting solar energy to electricity, the first step is to catch the sun’s rays. This is done with the help of photovoltaic panels. On private residences, you most likely have noticed the big, flat, black panels that have been mounted to the roof.

These panels are the ones that collect the sunlight and begin the conversion process. Although this is a somewhat simplistic explanation, it aptly illustrates the ease with which converting solar energy to electricity may be accomplished without too many adjunct operations.

Within the panels, the light is converted into electricity that is stored in a battery. The stored energy from the battery is drawn upon by the household demand for energy and thus its charge is depleted.

Over time, the battery may empty out and the home may once again need to rely on grid energy until the battery may be recharged. The more photovoltaic panels a home has installed, the more batteries can be charged and thus the less electricity has to be drawn from the grid.

The Top Four Renewable Power Options

Renewable Energy is energy created from resources that are regenerative - or renewable - meaning they cannot be depleted. These resources are safe for our environment and produce energy without the harmful pollutants and emissions associated with fossil-fuels.

Renewable energy utilizes natural cycles and systems such as sunlight, wind, tides, and geothermal heat to create energy in a form ready for human consumption. These sources differ from fossil fuels in that they can be replenished, and their use produces little, if any, greenhouse gases.

Renewable energy is not that cheap compared to conventional fossil fuel generating plants. The only real alternative to fossil fuels is nuclear energy. Renewable energy is naturally intermittent. Hydrogen provides a means to store renewable energy for times when the sun doesn't shine or the wind doesn't blow.

BioFuels

Biofuel is solid, liquid, or gas fuel made from recently dead biological material, most commonly plants. Biofuel can be theoretically produced from any organic carbon source. The most common by far is photosynthetic plants that capture solar energy. Many different plants and plant-derived materials are used for biofuels. The most widely recognized agri-fuel is corn, used to create ethanol.

Biomass energy is generated by the decay of large masses of plant or animal material or waste which forms methane and other combustible gases. These gases contain chemical energy, which when burned can be used to generate electricity.

Biomass and other combustible renewables and waste account for 11 percent, and nuclear energy accounts for 6.8 percent. Biomass, or the use of biologically derived materials for energy generation, is also considered a renewable-energy source and is carbon-neutral. Agricultural wastes are currently being explored as potential biomass feedstock.

Biomass pyrolysis gas and methane can be burned in reciprocating or gas turbine engines and the heat output readily integrated. Biodiesel and Ethanol production facilities can also become more feasible with integration into this system. The contributions from biofuels are expected to nearly quadruple, growing from 0.5 quads in 2006 to 1.87 quads in 2030.

Hydro

The power of moving water, generated by gravity, whether from damns or tidal waves, can also be considered a renewable resource. Hydro (moving water) accounts for 2.3 percent with all other renewable resources meeting .5 (five-tenths) of a percent of the world's total energy appetite.

Solar

Solar is the most popular renewable energy source in the USA. Solar electric (PV) systems typically do not require maintenance, other than periodic cleaning of the solar panels. PV panel life is typically 25 years. There are a variety of technologies that have been developed to take advantage of solar energy. These include concentrating solar power systems, passive solar heating and daylighting, photovoltaic systems, solar hot water, and solar process heat and space heating and cooling.

Wind

Wind turbines are usually constructed in the windiest areas, although there are many locations throughout the United States and the rest of the world that are suitable for wind power production. Wind energy is an intermittent source since wind does not blow at consistent speeds and times. Wind turbines use blades to collect the wind's kinetic energy. The wind flows over the airfoil shaped blades causing lift, like the effect on airplane wings, triggering them to turn.

The shortfall in the world’s energy needs can only be made up by renewable sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal, along with the other non-fossil, non-renewable fuel sources of energy, nuclear.

However, renewable energy sources will be unable to satisfy the predicted increased energy needs and certainly will not be able to replace fossil fuels entirely, even for electricity production alone.

Big Ideas for a Small Planet Video – Power

This episode explores the booming field of alternative energy as it introduces several individuals who are working to develop clean, renewable energy from resources like the sun... 25 Minute Video - A Very Good Overview of solar, wind and geothermal power options.