Alternative Energy – FAQ

Solar Power

Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity, either directly using photovoltaics (PV), or indirectly using concentrated solar power (CSP). Concentrated solar power systems use lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam. Photovoltaics convert light into an electric current using the photovoltaic effect.

Solar Energy is Nuclear Fusion – Nuclear power is a term we use to describe ways to harness energy through nuclear fission and fusion processes. Conventional nuclear reactors rely on the fission of uranium atoms to produce heat, which we use to generate electricity. Nuclear fission processes releases vast amounts of heat, but is still far from the potential of fusion, the exact same phenomena that powers the Sun (as well as other stars).

Solar has Incredible Potential
If we add the amount of solar energy that is absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere, land and oceans every year, we end up with approximately 3,850,000 EJ (exajoules or 10^18 joules).
To put it in more understandable terms, this amount of energy is equivalent to:
•2.7 million earthquakes of the same size as the Tohoku earthquake in Japan (2011).
•40 000 times the total energy consumption in the United States
•8 000 times the total consumption in the whole world.
•About 40% of the energy that is required to heat the entire volume of water we have on Earth by 1°Celsius

Wind Power

Wind power is the use of air flow through wind turbines to mechanically power generators for electricity. Wind power, as an alternative to burning fossil fuels, is plentiful, renewable, widely distributed, clean, produces no greenhouse gas emissions during operation, uses no water, and uses little land.[2] The net effects on the environment are far less problematic than those of nonrenewable power sources.

Wind farms consist of many individual wind turbines which are connected to the electric power transmission network. Onshore wind is an inexpensive source of electricity, competitive with or in many places cheaper than coal or gas plants.[3][4][5] Offshore wind is steadier and stronger than on land, and offshore farms have less visual impact, but construction and maintenance costs are considerably higher. Small onshore wind farms can feed some energy into the grid or provide electricity to isolated off-grid locations.

Interesting Wind Energy Facts

Hydro Power

Hydropower or water power (from the Greek: ύδωρ, “water” ) is power derived from the energy of falling water or fast running water, which may be harnessed for useful purposes. Since ancient times, hydropower from many kinds of watermills has been used as a renewable energy source for irrigation and the operation of various mechanical devices, such as gristmills, sawmills, textile mills, trip hammers, dock cranes, domestic lifts, and ore mills. A trompe, which produces compressed air from falling water, is sometimes used to power other machinery at a distance.

Hydropower facts

Bioenergy Power

Bioenergy is renewable energy made available from materials derived from biological sources. Biomass is any organic material which has stored sunlight in the form of chemical energy. As a fuel it may include wood, wood waste, straw, manure, sugarcane, and many other by products from a variety of agricultural processes. By 2010, there was 35 GW (47,000,000 hp) of globally installed bioenergy capacity for electricity generation, of which 7 GW (9,400,000 hp) was in the United States.

In its most narrow sense it is a synonym to biofuel, which is fuel derived from biological sources. In its broader sense it includes biomass, the biological material used as a biofuel, as well as the social, economic, scientific and technical fields associated with using biological sources for energy. This is a common misconception, as bioenergy is the energy extracted from the biomass, as the biomass is the fuel and the bioenergy is the energy contained in the fuel.

Fuel Cells

A fuel cell is a device that converts the chemical energy from a fuel into electricity through a chemical reaction of positively charged hydrogen ions with oxygen or another oxidizing agent.[1] Fuel cells are different from batteries in that they require a continuous source of fuel and oxygen or air to sustain the chemical reaction, whereas in a battery the chemicals present in the battery react with each other to generate an electromotive force (emf). Fuel cells can produce electricity continuously for as long as these inputs are supplied.

The first fuel cells were invented in 1838. The first commercial use of fuel cells came more than a century later in NASA space programs to generate power for satellites and space capsules. Since then, fuel cells have been used in many other applications. Fuel cells are used for primary and backup power for commercial, industrial and residential buildings and in remote or inaccessible areas. They are also used to power fuel cell vehicles, including forklifts, automobiles, buses, boats, motorcycles and submarines.

There are many types of fuel cells, but they all consist of an anode, a cathode, and an electrolyte that allows positively charged hydrogen ions (or protons) to move between the two sides of the fuel cell. The anode and cathode contain catalysts that cause the fuel to undergo oxidation reactions that generate positively charged hydrogen ions and electrons. The hydrogen ions are drawn through the electrolyte after the reaction. At the same time, electrons are drawn from the anode to the cathode through an external circuit, producing direct current electricity. At the cathode, hydrogen ions, electrons, and oxygen react to form water. As the main difference among fuel cell types is the electrolyte, fuel cells are classified by the type of electrolyte they use and by the difference in startup time ranging from 1 second for proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEM fuel cells, or PEMFC) to 10 minutes for solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC). Individual fuel cells produce relatively small electrical potentials, about 0.7 volts, so cells are “stacked”, or placed in series, to create sufficient voltage to meet an application’s requirements.[2] In addition to electricity, fuel cells produce water, heat and, depending on the fuel source, very small amounts of nitrogen dioxide and other emissions. The energy efficiency of a fuel cell is generally between 40–60%, or up to 85% efficient in cogeneration if waste heat is captured for use.

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