Archive | December 2016

Germany’s Renewable Energy Push

Renewable energy has been widely spoken about in recent years as the world’s resources of oil deplenish and we start to see affects of global warming. Despite this, we have yet to see most countries seriously invest in green energy production. Many places are still gaining a high percentage of their power from fossil fuels or nuclear power stations.

Germany has begun to buck the trend; they have recently broken a record for solar power generation. As the country baked under last weekend’s heat wave it created the equivalent power of 20 nuclear power stations through renewable generators. Within the country there is currently a battle between the big utilities companies and the community-owned renewable generators. Germany has seen a radical transformation with Chancellor Angela Merkel seeing renewable energy as a vital part to his chance of getting re-elected in 2013.

The ambition of Germany’s change of energy direction, universally called “Energiewende” is huge. The country aims to cut its energy usage by 50% by 2050 and to produce 80% of its energy from renewable sources. In this same time frame the UK expects to see electricity usage increase between 33% and 66%. The country took a huge turn last year when they closed nearly half of their nuclear power plants and plan to shut the remaining plants by 2022.

Germany’s current aims to improve its renewable energy from 20% to 35% by 2020. While many people have stated this is “starry eyed” or “unachievable” Sascha Muller-Kraenner, the executive director of the Nature Conservancy in Europe has stated the figures are based on real experience of the countries current renewable roll-out.

In contrast the UK has done very little to increase renewable energy, with only 9.5% of electricity in 2011 coming from green sources. In Germany 65% of renewables are owned by individuals compared to less than 10% in the UK. One B2B UK energy provider called Opus Energy is trying to improve this and has recently introduced a renewable scheme to help small businesses generate their own power. The question remains when will the rest of Britain follow in Germany’s footsteps?

HOW DOES A WIND TURBINE WORK?

From massive wind farms generating power to small turbines powering a single home, wind turbines around the globe generate clean electricity for a variety of power needs.

In the United States, wind turbines are becoming a common sight. Since the turn of the century, total U.S. wind power capacity has increased more than 24-fold. Currently, there’s enough wind power capacity in the U.S. to generate enough electricity to power more than 15 million homes, helping pave the way to a clean energy future.

 

WHAT IS A WIND TURBINE?

The concept of harnessing wind energy to generate mechanical power goes back for millennia. As early as 5000 B.C., Egyptians used wind energy to propel boats along the Nile River. American colonists relied on windmills to grind grain, pump water and cut wood at sawmills. Today’s wind turbines are the windmill’s modern equivalent — converting the kinetic energy in wind into clean, renewable electricity.

HOW DOES A WIND TURBINE WORK?

The majority of wind turbines consist of three blades mounted to a tower made from tubular steel. There are less common varieties with two blades, or with concrete or steel lattice towers. At 100 feet or more above the ground, the tower allows the turbine to take advantage of faster wind speeds found at higher altitudes.

Turbines catch the wind’s energy with their propeller-like blades, which act much like an airplane wing. When the wind blows, a pocket of low-pressure air forms on one side of the blade. The low-pressure air pocket then pulls the blade toward it, causing the rotor to turn. This is called lift. The force of the lift is much stronger than the wind’s force against the front side of the blade, which is called drag. The combination of lift and drag causes the rotor to spin like a propeller.

A series of gears increase the rotation of the rotor from about 18 revolutions a minute to roughly 1,800 revolutions per minute — a speed that allows the turbine’s generator to produce AC electricity.

A streamlined enclosure called a nacelle houses key turbine components — usually including the gears, rotor and generator — are found within a housing called the nacelle. Sitting atop the turbine tower, some nacelles are large enough for a helicopter to land on.

Another key component is the turbine’s controller, that keeps the rotor speeds from exceeding 55 mph to avoid damage by high winds. An anemometer continuously measures wind speed and transmits the data to the controller. A brake, also housed in the nacelle, stops the rotor mechanically, electrically or hydraulically in emergencies. Explore the interactive graphic above to learn more about the mechanics of wind turbines.

TYPES OF WIND TURBINES

There are two basic types of wind turbines: those with a horizontal axis, and those with a a vertical axis.

The majority of wind turbines have a horizontal axis: a propeller-style design with blades that rotate around a horizontal axis. Horizontal axis turbines are either upwind (the wind hits the blades before the tower) or downwind (the wind hits the tower before the blades). Upwind turbines also include a yaw drive and motor — components that turns the nacelle to keep the rotor facing the wind when its direction changes.

While there are several manufacturers of vertical axis wind turbines, they have not penetrated the utility scale market (100 kW capacity and larger) to the same degree as horizontal access turbines. Vertical axis turbines fall into two main designs:

  • Drag-based, or Savonius, turbines generally have rotors with solid vanes that rotate about a vertical axis.
  • Lift-based, or Darrieus, turbines have a tall, vertical airfoil style (some appear to have an eggbeater shape). The Windspire is a type of lift-based turbine that is undergoing independent testing at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s National Wind Technology Center.

WIND TURBINE APPLICATIONS

Wind Turbines are used in a variety of applications – from harnessing offshore wind resources to generating electricity for a single home:

  • Large wind turbines, most often used by utilities to provide power to a grid, range from 100 kilowatts to several megawatts. These utility-scale turbines are often grouped together in wind farms to produce large amounts of electricity. Wind farms can consist of a few or hundreds of turbines, providing enough power for tens of thousands of homes.
  • Small wind turbines, up to 100 kilowatts, are typically close to where the generated electricity will be used, for example, near homes, telecommunications dishes or water pumping stations. Small turbines are sometimes connected to diesel generators, batteries and photovoltaic systems. These systems are called hybrid wind systems and are typically used in remote, off-grid locations, where a connection to the utility grid is not available.
  • Offshore wind turbines are used in many countries to harness the energy of strong, consistent winds found off of coastlines. The technical resource potential of the winds above U.S. coastal waters is enough to provide more than 4,000 gigawatts of electricity, or approximately four times the generating capacity of the current U.S. electric power system. Although not all of these resources will be developed, this represents a major opportunity to provide power to highly populated coastal cities. To take advantage of America’s vast offshore wind resources, the Department is investing in three offshore wind demonstration projects designed to deploy offshore wind systems in federal and state waters by 2017.

FUTURE OF WIND TURBINES

To ensure future growth of the U.S. wind industry, the Energy Department’s Wind Program works with industry partners to improve the reliability and efficiency of wind turbine technology, while also reducing costs. The program’s research efforts have helped to increase the average capacity factor (a measure of power plant productivity) from 22 percent for wind turbines installed before 1998 to more than 32 percent for turbines installed between 2006 and 2012. Wind energy costs have been reduced from more than 55 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in 1980 to under 6 cents/kWh today in areas with good wind resources.

Wind turbines offer a unique opportunity to harness energy in areas where our country’s populations need it most. This includes offshore wind’s potential to provide power to population centers near coastlines, and land-based wind’s ability to deliver electricity to rural communities with few other local sources of low carbon power.

The Energy Department continues working to deploy wind power in new areas on land and at sea and ensuring the stable, secure integration of this power into our nation’s electrical grid.

 

Importance Of Solar Energy In Present Day Context

Saving electricity is the desire of every country in these days. On the other hand; electricity bill per unit is also increasing. Therefore, people are trying to get rid of this problem. As the need of different types of electrical equipments is increasing in the families, therefore, they are compelled to pay for the heavy electricity bill. If you want to avoid this problem, without compromising on the power consumption, then you can make use of the solar systems, which is a great source of energy. At the present time, people are using not only tube lights and fans but they are using air conditioning machines, air coolers, heaters in their homes.

This is the reason; the consumption of power in modern families is increasing. Therefore, to meet the need of these families supplying more power is not only the means but providing these families power at the affordable cost is required. Not only the families are in crisis of electricity but the business agencies are also in search of such sources of power that is affordable source of power.
As the sun is the enormous source of light, heat and power; therefore, by making use of this source of energy you can get tremendous advantage not only to save money but something more. In these days, people are trying to save not only money but the environment also. Therefore, using such a source of power that never creates any harmful effects to the environment is no doubt appreciable for everyone. In addition, the recurring cost of this system nominal too. Recently a great awareness among the mass has created as the government of every country is promoting this source of energy. When you would make use of power, converted by the power of the sun, then it would be highly useful for you. However, for the first time installing such a system that can convert the light of the sun into electricity is a costly measure for most of the families.
If you become able to install these systems in your home by spending the requisite amount of money, then it would be a highly advanced option for you. A great number of advantages, such as getting power at the nominal cost, getting uninterrupted power supply, are some of the advantages that inspire people to make use of this source of energy. Therefore, there is no reason; not to install these systems. The importance of the solar power is therefore getting a great popularity in every nation. However, this source of power has not become the main source of power still now. If you want to get more information in this regard, then you can go through the data supplied on the different websites. In addition, you can contact the nearest source that provides the equipments that are suitable to generate Solar Energy by getting the sunlight. You wouldn’t need to pay the high amounted electricity bill at all when you would use Solar Electricity in your home. Getting such kinds of advantages is possible only when you would become interested in installing this system.