Searching out alternative energy options is needed now more than ever before, because of the rising cost of oil and the threat of Global Warming. With the conditions of the World today, we all should be looking at the alternatives that are available to us. The signs of environmental changes cannot be ignored, even by those of us who are not scientists or environmentalists, yet it will ultimately depend on each one of us to make the adjustments necessary in our lifestyle habits and spending. Collectively, we can all help to save the earth from the threat of impending devastation, if we act now by switching to natural and renewable energy resources.
The three energy sources I will focus on have been around for years, and as time passes their respective technology and efficiency increases. These three energy sources are Solar Panels, Wind Turbines, and Geothermal Power.
Solar energy was first being utilized, more than 100 years ago, since the middle of the industrial revolution. Early solar power plants were built to produce steam to power the machines of factories. Around that time, Henri Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect. Photovoltaic is the production of electricity straight from the sun.
Solar (or photovoltaic) cells generate about 10 watts per square foot and are mounted on your rooftop. The maximum amount of solar electricity that can be efficiently generated is determined by the amount of southerly roof exposure available that remains completely unshaded most of the day. It is best to continue to be hooked up to the utility grid for two reasons. 1. They are required to purchase any extra electricity that is produced from your solar panels. 2. The days that are cloudy you may need to use their electricity.
People decide to purchase solar electric systems for different reasons. Some want to stop the use of fossil-fuel resources and reduce air pollution. Others would rather spend their money on energy-producing improvement to their property. Some people just want to reduce the amount of electricity they purchase from the utility companies. There are people who just don’t like paying high prices of their utility bills. No matter what the reason, solar energy is a sensible choice with a great return on your investment.
The use of wind turbines can be a great way to provide a source of clean and renewable energy for your home or business. There are several different wind energy devices available on the market today which can be used to generate power. Most are cost effective and provide a substantial level of electricity for your home or business.
The terms wind energy or wind power describes the process by which the wind is used to generate mechanical power or electricity. Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy in the wind into mechanical power. This mechanical power can be used for specific tasks, but is most commonly used to convert mechanical power into electricity. Simply stated, a wind turbine works the opposite of a fan. Instead of using electricity to make wind, which is what a fan does, wind turbines use wind to make electricity. The wind turns the blades, which spin a shaft, which connects to a generator and makes electricity. Single small turbines, below 100 kilowatts, are used for homes, telecommunications dishes, or water pumping. Small turbines are sometimes used in connection with diesel generators, batteries, and photovoltaic systems. These systems are called hybrid wind systems and are typically used in remote, off-grid locations, where a connection to the utility grid is not available. The initial investment of these technologies can be quite high, but they can be capable of paying for themselves within a matter of years.
“Geo” means “from the earth,” and “thermal” pertains to “heat or temperature”, so this type of energy is found under the earth. Here is how it works: about four feet underground, the temperature of the earth stays the same all year long – about 55 degrees. The system pumps a liquid through the pipes to absorb the heat and brings it back indoors. A device called a “heat exchanger” takes the heat from the liquid and uses it to heat or in some cases cool, the air inside the home.
A geothermal heating system uses pipes buried more than four feet deep in the earth.
By burying some water pipes and then running the fluid through a heat exchanger, you can produce ambient air that warms you in the winter and cools you in the summer.
It’s a little more complicated than that, because humans like it around 70° in the winter, a compressor is needed to bring the temperature of the air up a bit. But the net energy and cost savings are still considerable.
We can also use geothermal energy to make electricity. A geothermal power plant works by tapping into steam or hot water reservoirs underground; the heat is used to drive an electrical generator. Most geothermal plants are located in the western United States, where hot water reservoirs are common. The Geysers power plant in northern California is the world’s largest geothermal power plant, producing enough electricity to light up more than 22,000 homes.
If we can put our money into these three Alternative energy sources we can cut our ties from fossil fuels, specifically (OIL), the source of escalating global conflict, and become a more self-sufficient country. No matter what the state of your pocketbook, there are options available that allow each one of us to make the changes to renewable energy resources. At our website, EcoloChi.net we focus on ways to become more earth friendly, with a growing list of “green” products and information.