Solar Energy, the Issue With Its Domestic Applications

Posted by admin on January 22, 2015
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Solar power has been vaunted as a great alternative to tradition energy production methods. It is a passive way of producing energy. Once the panels are installed, beyond occasional cleaning, little work or maintenance is needed. Beyond the relatively high CO2 production used when making the solar panels, which does result in having to wait some time for the energy savings to exceed the CO2 used to make the panels in the first place, there are other issues when it comes to domestic application of solar panels.

One of the issues, which perhaps can be considered as somewhat absurd is a variation of what is known as the “Prius Effect”. The Prius Effect can be defined with the following example: A person might buy a Prius, an electric car produced by Toyota, for reasons beyond the wish to reduce CO2 emissions or save the environment. Also known as “conspicuous conservation”, the Prius Effect is a phenomenon which arises when a person chooses to adopt a method of CO2 emission reduction in order to be seen doing it. For instance a person will buy a Prius because it is a very distinctive vehicle, unlike other electric cars. How does this apply to solar panels? It applies to solar panels in one very significant way.

This significant way that it applies to solar panels is in the selection of where a homeowner will choose to have his solar panels installed on his home. It has been found in several parts of the United States of America, this may apply to other parts of the world, that a homeowner will not necessarily choose to place his solar panels in on the side of the the home which will receive the most sun. The way that this works, is that is the house is facing the street, the homeowner will choose to install the solar panels on the street-facing side, regardless of whether it is the sunniest side of the street. The reason for this is quite simple. If a person is going to spend a significant amount of money conserving energy, they will want to be seen doing it, regardless of how much energy savings will be foregone.Solar Energy, the Issue With Its Domestic Applications

Solar power has been vaunted as a great alternative to tradition energy production methods. It is a passive way of producing energy. Once the panels are installed, beyond occasional cleaning, little work or maintenance is needed. Beyond the relatively high CO2 production used when making the solar panels, which does result in having to wait some time for the energy savings to exceed the CO2 used to make the panels in the first place, there are other issues when it comes to domestic application of solar panels.

One of the issues, which perhaps can be considered as somewhat absurd is a variation of what is known as the “Prius Effect”. The Prius Effect can be defined with the following example: A person might buy a Prius, an electric car produced by Toyota, for reasons beyond the wish to reduce CO2 emissions or save the environment. Also known as “conspicuous conservation”, the Prius Effect is a phenomenon which arises when a person chooses to adopt a method of CO2 emission reduction in order to be seen doing it. For instance a person will buy a Prius because it is a very distinctive vehicle, unlike other electric cars. How does this apply to solar panels? It applies to solar panels in one very significant way.

This significant way that it applies to solar panels is in the selection of where a homeowner will choose to have his solar panels installed on his home. It has been found in several parts of the United States of America, this may apply to other parts of the world, that a homeowner will not necessarily choose to place his solar panels in on the side of the the home which will receive the most sun. The way that this works, is that is the house is facing the street, the homeowner will choose to install the solar panels on the street-facing side, regardless of whether it is the sunniest side of the street. The reason for this is quite simple. If a person is going to spend a significant amount of money conserving energy, they will want to be seen doing it, regardless of how much energy savings will be foregone.

Alternative Fuels: Liberating Us from Non-Renewables Part 2

Posted by admin on January 22, 2015
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One of the main applications of non-renewables is in automobiles. While they are used primarily to generate electricity, Alternative fuels used in motor vehicles are also known as biofuels. They are primarily in liquid form. This is due to the relatively high energy density, and ease of transport. One of the most efficient ways of burning these fuels is through an internal combustion engine, and the cleanest fuels to burn are either liquid or gas. The ease of pumping these fuels saves on labor, ands transportation costs.

Some biofuels have the advantage of being usable in existing motor vehicles, making the switch from a non-renewable fuel source, to a renewable one as easy as choosing a different pump at the petrol station. For instance, biodiesel, which is the most popular form of biofuel in Europe can be used in a standard diesel engine after some treatment. These fuels are typically derived from either oils or fats, and have a chemical composition which is very close to fossil diesel, or diesel made from fossil fuels. A wide range of vegetable oils can be used. They include soy, hemp, algae, and sunflower, among others. Although they are not the perfect solution when it comes to reducing emissions. They still produce CO2, for instance. The greenhouse gas emissions resulting to biodiesel use can be up to 60% lower than when compared to standard diesel. There are also certain limitations to the engine which may be used. Typically, the engine must be from a vehicle made from 1994 onwards. Today, however most engines do not need to be modified in any way to be compatible with biodiesel. Since the fuel is oxigenated, it has more oxygen and less CO2 than diesel. The fuel is also relatively safe. This is thanks to several reasons. The first is that it has a high flashpoint. It is also non-toxic. Finally, it is biodegradable. It also cleans the engine, thanks to its chemical and mineral properties, meaning that engine maintenance is reduced. As a result, engine efficiency is higher, and emissions are reduced even further.

Wind Power in Germany: A Luft to Lift

Posted by admin on January 21, 2015
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Germany is Europe’s power house. This is so in more ways than one. It has Europe’s largest population, it’s largest economy. It’s the continent’s biggest exporter, and home to the continent’s most billionaires. It should therefore seem natural that it be Europe’s largest producer of wind power. This both is and isn’t the case. It has Europe’s largest capacity, but is in stiff competition with it’s southern brother Spain for windpower production. It does play home to the wealthiest man in the Wind Power industry, Aloys Wobben, through his company, Enercon. Enercon is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of wind turbines. It is a global company as its facilities are not based exclusively in Germany. They can be found in various other parts of Europe, Latin America, North America, and Asia.

Wind power is a significant employer within the German economy, providing around 100,000 jobs for its citizens. It also produces around 10% of the German economy’s energy needs, and one of the world’s largest producers of wind power per capita. With over 20,000 wind turbines in the country, these facts should come as little surprise. At present a large proportion of win power generation is done onshore. This is due to the country’s relatively small amount of coastline. This is due to change, however. The German government is focusing on developing its offshore wind farm capacities. There are several issues, but it is seen as vital for the transition to having more renewable energy being generated within the country. The main challenge to developing these offshore farms is power transmission. Today, the largest industrial consumers in Germany remain towards the Southern regions, in Bavaria, Hesse, Baden-Wurttemberg, and North Rhine-Westphalia. As a result, any new offshore wind farms require the carrying capacity necessary to transfer the energy from the coast to these industrial areas. There are reasons for waning to take advantage of these potential offshore windfarms. At sea, wind speed it generally more consistent. This makes planning easier and the number of required turbines more predictable. Average wind speeds at sea can be up to twice as high as their inland counterparts. Being at sea also allows for the turbines to be much larger. This is a very new development, as it was only in 2009 that the first German offshore wind turbine was built. This did not stop, and will not stop the rise of wind power generation in Germany.

Wind Power in Spain: An Armada for the 21st Century Part 1

Posted by admin on January 20, 2015
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Spain has historically been known for powering a very important part of its economy using wind energy. This was known as the Spanish Armada. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Spain needed to control its vast colonial empire. It did so by naval dominance. Of course, before the steam engine and internal combustion engine, the Spanish ships were sailboats. They were powered by wind. Today, the Spanish economy is also dependent on wind, but in a very different way. The days of sailboats and empires are long gone. The modern economy runs on something very different to military power. It runs on actual power, electricity. This power, however, is, just like the Spanish Armada reliant on wind. Today, Spain is the second largest producer of wind power per capita. Today, over 20% of Spain’s electricity generation comes from wind. At peak times, over 50% of its electricity is from wind, reaching a peak of 59% in November 2010. Due to variable wind speeds, in spite of these large numbers, it does still rely quite heavily on thermal gas and nuclear power. That said, the Spanish government has ambitious goals for wind and other renewables.

The Spanish government has set itself the target to generate 92% of its energy from renewable energy. This includes both wind and solar, but wind is likely to be the larger of the two methods of electricity generation seeing as solar power is still relatively small compared to wind.

Spain is divided into 17 autonomous regions. These regions each have their own government and are very heterogeneous both geographically and economically. The regions do all answer to the central government in Madrid, however. As a result, the share of electricity generated from wind varies considerably. The region which is most reliant on wind is Navarre, in the North. Given that is does not have any power stations which use thermal, fossil fuel, nuclear, or hydroelectric power, it is heavily reliant on renewables. As a result, the region, generates over 70% of its energy from wind. In order to put this into context Navarre, which has a humble population of about 600,000 inhabitants, it Europe’s sixth largest producer of wind power. Wind is of great importance to the region, as it was only until 1996, that it stopped being fully dependent on imported energy. It is not the largest producer of wind power in Spain.

Wind Power in Spain: An Armada for the 21st Century Part 2

Posted by admin on January 20, 2015
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As previously seen, Spain is a global leader in wind power generation. It was noted that Navarre was the region most reliant on said power source. While this may be the case, two of Spain’s autonomous regions produce far more wind power. Other do, but they are beyond the scope of the current discussion. The two autonomous regions in question are the central regions of Castile and León, and Castile-La Mancha.

Castile and León has the highest wind power carrying capacity in the country. It has over 100 wind farms in operation. Nearly half of them are around the historic capital, Burgos. Wind power generation started in the region. This is certainly due to the region’s geographic endowment. The region around Burgos in particular, thanks to its inland location at altitude is blessed with high and consistent winds.

Castile-La Mancha has the second highest wind power carrying capacity. It has long been associated with windmills, so for wind power to be so significant is almost expected. Its association with windmills can be linked to Spain’s most famous fictional Character, “The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha”, by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. One can look back to the famous scene of the novel wherein Don Quixote decides to attack windmills, thinking that they were giants. These were put in place thanks to Castle-La Mancha’s naturally high winds. The region still relies heavily on thermal power, another form of renewable energy, but wind energy becoming increasingly important to its economy.

Spain’s wind power industry is large, and growing. Over 500 companies exist to serve the wind energy sector. It is viewed as Spain’s most promising sector. This is particularly important given the turmoil that the economy is in following the Global Financial Crisis, and the EuroZone crisis. The largest companies have a truly global presence, and are industry leaders. Among the largest Spanish wind energy firms are Gamesa Eólica, Ecotecnia (also known as Alstom Wind), Acciona Energy, Iberdola, and Mtorres. They serve the Spanish economy’s growing export energy industry. Its wind generators are exported for the construction of wind farms in China, India, and Mexico for example. The companies have operations all over the world. The countries in which they have operations include Italy, Brazil, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Running against the general trend of the Spanish economy, wind power in Spain is growing in leaps and bounds both domestically and abroad.