Renewable Energy – Article Series – #1

Today I’d like to talk about renewable energy. For the most part, renewable energy, clean energy and green energy are one and the same.

That’s if you’re not nit-picking, of course, as sometimes as a result of a clean energy effort, more green areas are damaged  or more energy is expended in non-clean ways to make this new clean energy endeavour a reality.

But I digress. Today, renewable energy, for the most part pertains to three types of energy production:

1/ Solar energy: As most everyone knows, is the energy harvested from the light (and sometimes also heat and radiation) coming from our sun. This is achieved via photovoltaic cell arrays, arranged on big panels. Energy efficiency on average is between 10%-20%

2/ Wind energy: Those big propellers you can see mounted on tall polls around or covering large open fields. They simply convert the kinetic energy of wind into electrical power by turning a wheel inside an electromagnetic field (dynamo – like those powering bicycle lights)

3/ Hydro/Water energy: The use of water and height differences, usually by building dams containing large turbines to harness the power of rushing water to turn (yet again) a wheel and generate power.

These are the main three options. There are other, more exotic ones, and even within these three, there are variants and differences.

Like many things, all these solutions cost money, and therefore, out a different price tag on electricity. However, most of the time the calculation is incorrect, because if you only look at the cost of installation and maintenance, you might neglect other issues such as the environmental advantages, leading to less airway related diseases, hence less deaths and injuries, lightening the burden on a country medical infrastructure and promoting longer and healthier life – and that’s just one factor.

For the most part, Solar power is the best known and mostly used clean energy technology in the world. The reasons are simple: You got access to sunlight virtually everywhere and the cost of solar panels keeps going down as time passes, so it is coming closer and closer to the cost of non-clean energy production solutions.

Water power depends on a specific landscape and water source availability, and building a hydroelectric dam is expensive.

Wind power is available in most places, but harnessing it is not as easy and requires more space then solar panel farms.

Because of solar energy abundance and growing demand, vast budgets are allocated towards research and labs keep improving on the existing technologies. For instance, the efficiency factor is constantly being pushed to provide higher bang for the buck, and lately over 30 percent efficiency has been achieved by using improved solar panels.

One of the big ticket solution that is being sought after is solar aeroplanes. There is a working solar aeroplane in existence, it looks like an oversized glider, and can accommodate only one person. But they recently achieved intercontinental flight clocking at 19 hours. The prototype cruising speed is about 70 km/h.. that would make for very long flights, but as fossil fuels become more rare and expensive, this may become the only way to get around to far off places.

See you on the next article! If you have any questions, or comments, don’t hesitate to leave them at the bottom of the page, or by emailing me at blog@eyalo.com, and of course, like, re-tweet, and +1 as much as you can 🙂

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