Tag Archive | facts about renewable energy

Alternative Types Of Renewable Energy Sources

The Anthem of the Energy Crisis

The world has been in any energy crisis for generations now, at least. Mankind has used and used and depleted the Earth’s non-renewable energy resources and it has now become difficult to provide humanity with the energy that it demands. Consequently, work on alternative sources of energy has been made which includes the work on renewable energy like solar for almost 4 decades now. This article discusses how solar energy is the cleanest source and the fluctuation in its pricing recently.

Renewable Energy World

Energy conservation is a topic that is close to almost everyone’s hearts today. We are just beginning to realize how fast we will run out of non-renewable sources of energy like coal and water. As a consequence, alternate forms of energy are constantly being experimented with and tested on in order to provide mankind with energy for the coming generations. While this debate was opened many, many years ago, we also decided to consider renewable sources of energy like wind and sun energy. These forms of energy were expensive back in the 70s, but over the following years, seeing the energy crisis that the world is going into, these alternate forms of energies have gone down in terms of pricing. Statistics tell us that the pricing of solar energy has gone down from $150/Watt in the 1970s to 60 cents/watt today. That is a huge drop which allows us to envision using solar panels and actually making a difference in the world.

Advantages Of Renewable Energy

If you live in a part of the world that sees sunny days almost 80 to 90 percent of the 365 days of a year, then using solar energy can save us big costs and also help us conserve energy. Sustainable energy solutions  are being worked on every day now and their utility is completely relevant to the lifestyles of most people. Furthermore, the project of solar energy increased employment in the U.S. in the recession of 2007. Companies hired new people to install panels and some trained older employees to install them and work with them. An advantage of solar energy is that it is installed right where it is needed. This means that it eliminates the need for electrons to travel for miles an hour, losing 6 percent of their total efficiency in the travel process. This was also better because it was providing more energy than the other sources. The best about solar energy is that it is absolutely clean to use and that anyone can maintain and fix it for themselves, even though there are many solar light suppliers present.

Solar energy systems home may still be expensive to buy and install but what many companies have come up with is more of an installment plan where you make one big payment and keep on paying small amounts every month. The world needs solutions for the energy crisis and solar power and wind power seems to be the solution we are looking for. Houses and offices can easily be powered by solar energy and because there is hardly any wastage, this form of energy is also more efficient compared to hydrothermal or hydroelectric. With such astonishing statistics, the number of solar light suppliers has increased in the recent years and these firms are also working on sustainable solutions for humanity. While there is a competition in alternative energy, including wind energy, biomass and geothermal and they are being effectively used to solve the energy crisisFree Articles, solar energy remains unparalleled and demands to be invested in and it is important to learn  how do we use solar energy.

How is Energy Created

Energy is the power that lights up our homes, helps us in transportation and helps manufacture every kind of products. Creation or destruction of energy is not possible and it can only be changed from one form to another. Types of energy include both renewable and non-renewable resources.

 

Non-renewable Sources of Energy
Coal, petroleum and natural gas are fossil fuels that we use for producing various forms of energy. These are non-renewable sources of energy as they cannot be regenerated or created again. Uranium is also a non-renewable energy resource, which is employed in nuclear power plants.
To produce energy, these fuels undergo a process called combustion. Combustion leads to pollution, as it releases sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide that lead to global warming and acid rains.

Those sources of energy that can be reused over and again include wind, solar power, biomass, hydropower (water) and geothermal power. These are referred to as renewable or alternative energy, and can be defined as a form of energy that does not expend earth’s limited resources and can be refilled quickly and easily.
Renewable energy does not generate pollution in gathering and production of power, unlike non-renewable energy. The sources of renewable energy are:
ØWind turbines that generate or create electricity from the wind. ØSun is the biggest source of energy and produces solar power. Direct and indirect energy from the sun can be used to create electricity using solar or photovoltaic panels. Such panels are used in office and homes to generate electricity.ØNatural products like wood, corn and manure help create biomass, which are used to generate heat by burning them.ØHydropower comes from rivers and dams. A turbine is located at places with high water currents. Flowing water activates the turbine, which in turn generates electricity. ØThe earth’s crust generates geothermal mass through the extremely hot water or stream that is extracted from the crust by engineers. This is used to generate electricity.
Sun is the biggest source of energy that produces other sources. For example, wind is produced through the interaction between the atmosphere and the solar energy. Not only does the wind drive wind mills and power sailing ships, but it also helps a great deal in producing electricity.
Similarly, when solar energy interacts with the oceans, it sets hydrological cycle in motion. This cycle leads to rainfall and creates other potential energy through flow of water in rivers and streams, which in turn help create hydroelectric power.
Renewable energy has many advantages. It can be replenished and facilities generating this energy do not require large maintenance costs. As this form of energy does not produce harmful products and gases such as carbon monoxideFree Web Content, it does not harm the environment either. The fact is that the earth receives 6000 times of energy that is used throughout the world. The need of the hour is to transform this energy to suit our requirements and to help create and sustain a better environment for the current and future generations.

 

by Graeme Knights

Will We Soon Be Riding on Solar Roads?

The Idea Gains Traction

 Countries—U.S., France, Netherlands—are testing ways to pave roads with solar panels. Their plans have skeptics.
 

Solar is popping up just about everywhere, even landfills and parka pockets. So why not roads? Indeed, solar road projects are gaining interest around the world, and some promise to even charge electric cars while moving.

The Netherlands built the first solar road, a bike path, in 2014. France announced a bolder move in January—over the next five years, it plans to install 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) of solar roads, designed to supply power to five million people.

In fact, on December 22, France opened the world’s first solar road for cars, in a Normandy village. The 0.6-mile route in Tourouvre-au-Perche is covered with 2,800 square meters of electricity-generating solar panels. The goal is powering street lighting.

The project, which cost around 5 million Euros, is expected to be used by about 2,000 motorists a day.

German company Solmove aims to bring solar panels to German roads, and Idaho-based Solar Roadways has received three rounds of U.S. government funding (plus $2 million in venture capital) to test its technology.

“We have interested customers from all 50 states and most countries around the world,” says Julie Brusaw, who co-founded Solar Roadways with her engineer husband Scott. She says before hitting the open road, they’re testing their panels in non-critical areas such as parking lots, walkways, and their own driveway.

“We are in talks about some very interesting projects,” she says, noting the Missouri Department of Transportation wants to install the panels at a rest area along the I-70 highway. The couple say their tempered-glass panels offer asphalt-like traction, support the weight of semi-trucks, include LEDs for signage, and contain heating elements to melt snow and ice.

Could solar panels really pave the roads of the future? Proponents see endless possibilities, but others raise questions about cost, efficiency, and durability.

“We just place our solar panels on an existing pavement,” says Jean-Luc Gautier, inventor of the Wattway technology that will be tested this spring in France before its polycrystalline silicon layer is applied to actual roads. Gautier, technical director at construction company Colas, says he was inspired by the fact that roads look at the sky so they can collect solar energy.

Julie and Scott Bursaw, an Idaho couple who co-founded Solar Roadways, poses in front of a prototype for their solar-embedded pavement.

 

PHOTOGRAPH BY SOLAR ROADWAYS

“The sheer amount of surfaces each country devotes to roadways is enormous,” the Bursaws write on their website. “Allowing this space to double as a solar farm could have very positive implications in the battle to put a halt to climate change.” They estimate that their panels, if used in lieu of existing U.S. roads and walkways, could produce more than three times the electricity used in the United States.

Besides, they say their panels could charge electric vehicles, first on solar parking lots. With enough solar highways and cars with the right equipment (to pick up energy from induction plates in the road) they might even be able to charge vehicles while moving.

THE COST CHALLENGE

“In theory, solar PV roadways sound great. The issue is cost.” says Mark Jacobson, an engineering professor at Stanford University who has promoted a plan for powering the U.S. solely with renewable energy. (Read about his blueprint for a carbon-free America.)

“Aside from road dust, particularly black tire dust and diesel exhaust, which will quickly cover a portion of each panel, the continuous traffic covering panels will reduce their solar output,” says Jacobson, adding they’ll likely suffer more wear and tear and need more repairs than other solar panels.

He also says that while they don’t require land acquisition costs, as do solar power plants, their panels cannot be rotated for optimal solar exposure. He expects a solar road won’t be able to compete on cost, but “I’m hopeful it will.”

“Installing photovoltaics in roads seems like a daft idea at first, “says a report last month byIDTechEx, an independent research and consulting firm. “A closer look reveals that most of the problems are easily overcome and even at poor efficiency, that local electricity has viable uses.”

Despite high costs, company chairman Peter Harrop says solar roads might work in places that are putting down roads for the first time. “They need early (technology) adopters like China that want to leapfrog in development.”

In contrast, “I can’t see solar roads in London,” he says, noting the city often digs up its roads for underground repairs.

So far, the Netherlands’ solar path is popular. In its first year, 300,000 bikes and mopeds rode the initial 70-meter (230-foot) stretch connecting two Amsterdam suburbs. Officials say the SolaRoad produced more energy last year than expected—enough to power three households. It’s made of crystalline silicon solar cells, encased in concrete and covered with a translucent layer of tempered glass.

In the U.S., Solar Roadways has received more than $1.5 million from the Department of Transportation over the last six years to develop and test its hexagonal-shaped panels.

“One of the shortcomings Solar Roadways has yet to resolve is the manufacturing process,” two DOT officials wrote in a December post, noting the solar cells are handmade and thus “very costly” to produce. Julie Bursaw says the company’s most recent prototype is less costly to produce, 25 percent more efficident, and easier to install.

The DOT officials, Michael Trentacoste and Robert C. Johns, say the agency has received “a lot of positive feedback” about the project; the company’s promotional video has 21 million views on YouTube. Because the panels can melt snow or keep water from freezing, even with high costs, they say the innovation “could still be useful in smaller areas such as parking lots, sidewalks, driveways, and bike lanes.”

This story was originally published on March 10, 2016 and was updated on December 22, 2016 with information about the opening of the solar road in France.

The story is part of a special series that explores energy issues. For more, visit The Great Energy Challenge.

On Twitter: Follow Wendy Koch and get more environment and energy coverage at NatGeoEnergy.