Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Advantages of Distributed Solar Power, Large-Scale Solar Photovoltaics, and Solar Thermal

As the generation of electricity via fossil fuels becomes less reliable and more expensive, many countries are exploring renewable energy options to guarantee their supply. Solar power generation in its various forms is a very attractive prospect, particularly in areas that enjoy long hours of sunshine. However, it can be difficult to decide which form is the most suitable. To that end, here are some of the benefits of Distributed Solar Power, Large-Scale Solar Photovoltaics, and Solar Thermal.

Distributed Solar Power

While photovoltaics and thermal describe the method of converting sunlight into other types of energy, distributed solar power refers to the location of that process; in this case, as close to the point of consumption as possible.
Its advantages are, firstly, that it avoids the energy loss traditionally experienced in the transmission and distribution of electricity, as these steps are no longer necessary. This also saves money. Any heat created during generation can be utilised to decrease wastage.
The decentralization of production allows for fluctuations in demand, especially where storage systems are in place. It provides individual households and business flexibility and independence from the main grid, potentially avoiding blackouts and other problems.
Although there is an initial cost, it pays for itself over time in the savings made from decreased reliance on a power company.

Large-Scale Solar Photovoltaics

Photovoltaics, or solar panels, are a common choice for solar power. This is due to their increasing efficiency and reducing installation cost – given the economy of scale, large-scale solar photovoltaics - also known as solar farms -  are approximately half the cost of residential solar. Innovations in technology, and large-scale production in countries such as China, means that it is more cost-effective than ever, with prices of the energy produced nearing that of the wholesale prices charged by fossil fuel power plants.
Solar farms produce jobs in a variety of areas, from maintenance to operations, and they can be placed on land that is unsuitable for most development. This land, which includes closed landfills, is often close to towns and cities, cutting down on transmission infrastructure and its cost.

Solar Thermal

Solar thermal can refer to a wide range of applications of heating, and even cooling. When just considering energy generation, the most efficient method is Concentrated Solar Power (CSP). CSP plants are smaller – they use less land and have a lower environmental impact and expense. The heat storage is also more efficient, storing more energy per unit of fluid, which allows for production of electricity outside of hours of direct sunlight, therefore creating a more reliable system that can generate power 24 hours a day.
Finally, solar thermal plants can re-purpose existing equipment already made in large-scale industry, such as turbines, which lowers the cost of installation.

Each form of solar power has its advantages, whether it is cost, flexibility, or efficiency. When selecting one, the best choice is the one that gains the desired outcome.

Large-Scale Nuclear Power vs. Modular Nuclear Power

Nuclear power is definitely one of the most controversial methods of producing energy and although it has great green credentials there are many reservations from the public as a whole. So what can be done to improve the image of an energy that could severely slow the rate at which greenhouse gasses are being produced?

Large scale nuclear reactors have historically been the most popular form of nuclear energy as it had been funded on a massive scale. Being able to produce enough energy to outweigh the more conventional forms of energy production has been the major stumbling block other than public image. In more recent years there has also been issues of holds ups in plans to big large scale nuclear plants that are difficult to fund and a failure to keep to timescales increases costs of undertaking such big plans.

Experts now believe that using much smaller, modular power plants is a viable option in replacement for the expensive large scale reactors. Modular reactors are already used on nuclear submarines and in countries such as India and Pakistan so the technology surrounding these plants is already at a very high standard but it is a recent idea that they might be considered economically viable.

Small power reactors are plants that produce less than 300 megawatts which compared with large scale reactors that are able to produce over 1.6 gigawatts. In order to make it worthwhile you have to build a lot more modular plants to produce the same amount of energy as a large scale one so why is this becoming the preferred method of nuclear power plant building? The answers are simple.

There have been many problems with nuclear power and most issues that have arisen have been assigned to the scale of the reactors. This indication implies that smaller reactors are safer and therefore could improve the overall image of nuclear power. While image isn’t everything in the world of energy suppliers it would make it much easier for nuclear power plants to get planning permission if there was less opposition.

Clearly image isn’t the only important factor with nuclear power plants. Modular power plants are much smaller than the pictures most of us think of when imagining a nuclear power plants. They can be completed much easier and faster and run a lot less risk of overrunning in terms of timescale. This is important as it reduces costs but also means the plant can be producing energy much sooner while they proceed onto the next plant.

It is possible to build these much smaller plants in a factory and should the demand for these types of power plants be high enough it would significantly reduce costs. Comparing modular power plants to larger scale plants indicates there is a clear decision to be made about the future and that is to transfer over to modular power plants.

A Close Look at San Diego’s HERO Program: A Step Towards Home Energy Renovation

The importance of green energy for use in homes and businesses is becoming more and more widespread, with individuals, families, and whole communities making the proactive effort to renovate their energy systems in order to pursue a more cost-efficient and energy-efficient method. San Diego is a west coast city that isn’t far behind in that concept. With the implementation of San Diego’s HERO program, homeowners throughout the San Diego and greater Southern California area are making changes in order to have the opportunity to rely on solar energy as their main energy source in the coming months and years.

Having said that, it might come as no surprise that solar energy systems are expensive to implement, thus potentially preventing homeowners from pursuing this more efficient clean energy system. It’s for this reason that many areas across the nation have introduced the concept of Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE. In San Diego, the PACE concept takes the form of the HERO program, or Home Energy Renovation Opportunity. HERO and similar programs have the potential to cover 100 percent of the cost of solar energy system implementation, from the solar panels and green windows, to artificial turf and water saving upgrades. This financial assistance makes access to clean energy and a renovated energy akin society that much more feasible.

This clean energy upgrade financing is a low-interest option that is repaid through property taxes. With a simple application process and options for even those with unfavorable credit scores, the HERO program provides homeowners dedicated to making the transition to clean energy with manageable rates and fees. Since 2011, an clean energy focused organization called Renovate America utilized this HERO program to fund $1.2 billion in home improvements on approximately 55,000 homes. Starting in Riverside, California, this program was implemented in order to allow homeowners to bring their clean energy desires to reality. In Riverside County alone, approximately 18,700 homes have utilized the program in order to make clean energy modifications to their homes. Since expanding to San Diego County two years ago, the same program has provided financial assistance across nearly 8,000 local projects. In San Diego county alone, the benefits of access to the HERO program through Renovate America is obvious when taking a closer look at the statistics involved. Thus far for San Diego county, this program has facilitated a substantial increase in jobs, provided millions of dollars in funding for sustainable options, conserved nearly 1,000 million kilowatts of energy, and saved more than 700 million gallons of water.

These benefits go hand in hand with what the HERO program is doing for homeowners as well. The amount saved on energy bills and reduction in their personal carbon footprint are other advantages to consider when making the decision to apply for this clean energy financing. Overall, though, when taking a look at the positive reception from homeowners and the effectiveness of the program, it is easy to see that individuals are ready and willing to take advantage of a program such as this in order to go above and beyond to make a change for the better. Moving in the right direction in regards to clean energy changes is made that much more possible with the help of the HERO program and others like it. 

Marine and Hydrokinetic Power

Hydrokinetic technologies have come to the forefront of renewable energy in recent years as the power of waves are a relatively untapped source. Water is a staggering 832 times denser than air and makes the potential power of hydrokinetic energy an opportunity that we cannot ignore for the future of our environment.

Hydrokinetic power uses the kinetic power of waves, tides and currents to create electricity. The development of technologies used in harnessing this power is still being worked on however pilot schemes are being put into place to further the development. It is difficult to get to a point where full use of the technologies is conceivable however with increasing funding going towards renewables the possibilities are growing daily with this relatively new technology.

The most simple and powerful way of harnessing marine hydrokinetic power is by using both near and off-shore waves. By extracting only 15% of the potential kinetic power from waves in the USA it would exceed the amount of electricity currently generated by hydroelectric dams. This is an immense possibility considering there amount of water that covers the entire planet.

Not only are the kinetic powers of waves harnessable but experts believe there is a lot of promise held in ocean tides. As the tides change they produce a phenomenon known as a tidal stream which is a powerful current. Not only is this current powerful enough to produce high amounts of energy but it is highly predictable which means it is easier to predict the surges in electricity and when support would be needed.

While the effects of hydrokinetic technologies on climate change are easy to define as there are no dangerous greenhouse emissions further research is necessary to see the wider implications of using this technology. Many renewable resources have been able to work in means of protecting the environment from harm. Before it is possible to give the green light to use new and untested technology there needs to be assurances that there wont be any kinds of danger to marine biodiversity.

It is also exceedingly expensive getting new renewable energies into use as there are so many complications along the line. Without the funding from governments and dedication from researchers and scientists there is no knowing how long it could take to get to a stage where we are able to use hydrokinetic technologies to harness electricity. Fortunately it is becoming a more pressing matter not only in the eyes of those working on the technology but also on a wider scale. The general public is becoming much more softened to the idea of using renewable energy and are much more conscious of the impact of electricity on the environment. Image can make or break a company and the time is certainly coming that there will be a shift in power towards renewables and a cleaner power sector which marine hydrokinetic energy is certainly a part of.