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Offline adrianne

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What renewable energy sources are there?
« on: 30/10/2010 13:43:23 »
I am preparing a presentation on various types of renewable energy resources. The content available on internet is all hocus pocus and I am quite unable to find detailed and systematic information. Some sites that I found helpful are [these companies that will pay me if I SPAM you with their links!]. Please help me in completing my presentation by suggesting where can I find more information?
« Last Edit: 10/11/2010 21:02:39 by chris »


 

Offline Don_1

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Re: What renewable energy sources are there?
« Reply #1 on: 30/10/2010 14:36:18 »
If you are in the UK or can get here, there is a conference & exhibition in Glasgow on renewables on 2nd - 4th of Nov 2010.
 

Offline GBO

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Re: What renewable energy sources are there?
« Reply #2 on: 10/11/2010 05:51:46 »
A presentation of renewable energy is indeed interesting.  However, you may want to review the history of man and energy first.  Man kinds first energy was fire from burning wood.  Whale oil popped up but one cannot really classify that as energy.  A source of light might be more accurate.  Coal is next powering the steam engine for its time a ground breaking technology.  But, was coal the next in line because we ran out of wood?  Hardly, coal was better and abundant and wood was still in full supply.  Gasoline came on the scene.  Far more energy robust then coal.  The internal combustion engine revolution happened not because we ran out of coal.  Gasoline became much more efficient then coal.  Much more economical to power cars and trucks.  And, that is really the rub here.  Economics plays a huge roll in how man uses energy. That is where the renewable sources fall short. So, from history we learn that one form of energy used by man was replaced not because we ran out of the first energy source. It was replaced because another more efficient energy that was ultimately a better economical choice.   I see nothing in the future that would replace this model. 
« Last Edit: 10/11/2010 05:55:20 by GBO »
 

SteveFish

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Re: What renewable energy sources are there?
« Reply #3 on: 10/11/2010 15:38:32 »
GBO:

The model is working just fine. Fossil fuels are finite, so as the developed world continues its high rate of consumption and the demands of the developing world are rapidly increasing, consumer costs will continue to go up at an accelerating rate. In contrast, renewable costs are rapidly declining and will soon be less expensive than fossil fuels. Some already are if you take the long view. For example, I have invested in 2 KW of high quality PV solar panels that should easily last for more than 30 years. What I have done is buy 30 years of electricity, but at a price that will not go up. At current electricity prices my investment will be paid off in 10 years (5 years to go and getting shorter as prices increase) after which I have 20 plus years of free power.

You should really spend some time to get current estimates of the various fossil fuel reserves and then you will be interested in investing in renewables while the price is low.

Steve
 

Offline CliffordK

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What renewable energy sources are there?
« Reply #4 on: 02/12/2010 15:27:03 »
If you are looking at renewable energy sources....

  • Hydroelectric.  Fallen out of favor a bit due to fish migration issues, but still an important energy source.
  • Tidal and Wave energy.  A few projects now. 
  • Wood.
  • Hogfuel used to be a cheap forest byproduct, but less available now
  • Wood Pellets, Grass Pellets, Straw Pellets, etc.
  • Wind
  • Solar Electric
  • Solar Hot Water
  • Solar Heating
  • Ethanol (and other alcohols).  Note a lot of controversy over Ethanol in particular.
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Biodiesel
  • Various cracked biofuels.
  • Electric Vehicles (if the primary source of energy was renewable).
  • Hydrogen Vehicles (if the primary source of energy was renewable).
  • Landfill Gas
  • Other sources of Biogas
  • Woodgas (you can even power a car on woodgas).
  • Geothermal
  • Does a bicycle count?
  • Any heat differential could potentially be used by a Sterling Engine, although not widely adopted at this time as it may not be applicable to large powerplants.
  • Does a Clothes Line Count?

Another aspect is efficient building.

For example, lots of insulation, or building a partially underground structure to utilize the temperature of the earth for heating, cooling, insulation, or as a heat sink.

I've seen drawings of the use of a heat chimney and underground piping to cool houses.

« Last Edit: 02/12/2010 15:37:00 by CliffordK »
 

Offline Geezer

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What renewable energy sources are there?
« Reply #5 on: 02/12/2010 22:17:04 »
The Stirling engine was invented by a Scottish inventor of the same name.
 

Offline billinthewoods

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What renewable energy sources are there?
« Reply #6 on: 04/12/2010 12:02:46 »
PAR-CHAR™!!!

i made a similar reply just now on another post, it was rather ranty so ill keep this short.

coppice woodland
charcoal
use in good wood burners (not 3 chamber burning multi-copout-fuel stoves)
grow coppice for another 5-10 years (depending on species of tree)
re-coppice
charcoal

use woodland for bees, hazel for furniture, ash for burning and everything else for growing food and producing energy.
of course that does just nail heat energy. we should be asking the Africans how best to produce cheap and sustainable electricity!!! a country that we consider third world can easier produce a wind turbine to make light whereas in this country you have to get enormous loans and pay extortionate costs for simple dynos and converters.
bio fuel for engines, without a doubt 60p/ltr YES PLEASE!!!! we have just set up our own plant and will be producing it before the new year.
hope it helps

bill
 

Offline Don_1

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What renewable energy sources are there?
« Reply #7 on: 05/12/2010 01:43:58 »
Hydroelectric - all very well, but there are more than just fish migration problems associated with this.

Tidal & wave - I'm not sure this would be economical in production or maintenance.

Wood, grass, straw etc. - Could not get anywhere close to demand.

Wind - OK, so long as the wind blows.

Solar - Only reliable in certain regions and even then, only during daylight hours.

Ethanol, veg oil, biodiesel - Not very eco friendly. 1000's of acres of the Borneo forest have been cut down already to produce Palm oil. It is estimated that an area the size of South America would be required to grow sufficient crops to supply the USA alone with biodiesel.

Electric and Hydrogen vehicles = both come back to the original problem.

Landfill gas - Unstable and unreliable.

Biogas - Same problem as with biodiesel.

Geothermal - Real possibilities.

Cycle and 'Pedopower' - OK for charging batteries, but not much more.

Best short term solution - Drastic reduction of consumption. The '24/7 global' world cannot be sustained. Like it or not, we will need to revert to older practices, such as, up with the sun and to bed when it goes down and sourcing from local producers. We cannot justify flying tomatoes, apples, oranges etc half way around the world.

Perhaps the best long term solution might be to find a way to utilise gravity as a source of power. It's everywhere, it's constant and it's genuinely a 'renewable' power. Finding a way to harness it, however, will prove a tall order.
 

SteveFish

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What renewable energy sources are there?
« Reply #8 on: 05/12/2010 03:40:47 »
Don_1:

I hear you. I think an intelligent approach including conservation (the low hanging fruit) and a mix of renewables could work to maintain something similar to what we have now and include developing nations. However, I said intelligent....

Steve
 

Offline Geezer

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What renewable energy sources are there?
« Reply #9 on: 05/12/2010 05:51:16 »
Don,

Earth gravity alone won't get us very far, although it is a good way of storing energy temporarily with pumped storage hydroelectric systems, but tidal systems already are a method of tapping energy from the Earth/Moon gravitational system, although it could be argued that it's really tapping into the kinetic energy of the Earth/Moon system. I think they recently installed a huge underwater turbine off the coast of Scotland to produce electricity from tidal action.

BTW - geothermal systems have a downside too. They cause earthquakes.
 

Offline Don_1

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« Reply #10 on: 05/12/2010 06:13:14 »
The UK has 3149 wind turbines which, together with other renewables, produce less than 10% of our current consumption. There are just over 31 million cars on our roads. Heathrow Airport alone handles 480,000 aircraft per year (around 67 million passengers).

Oil reserves will become increasingly more difficult and expensive to extract. The more difficult to access fields, which have been ignored in the past, are already attracting the attention of oil companies. The recent escapade in the Gulf of Mexico by BP is evidence of these facts.

This year has seen the first fall in the number of cars on British roads since the 1950's. With fuel prices at around £1.20 per Ltr now and increases expected next year, car use has decreased and will decrease further in the future. The increased price of fuel is partly to blame for the increases in food prices, due to the higher distribution costs. The US has been cushioned against the rising cost of oil by virtue of its own production, but there is obviously concern that these reserves may not be so plentiful in the not too distant future. Again, I think the BP escapade is evidence of this. The US authorities allowed this risky deep water drilling to
go ahead in order to back up American oil production.

Steve, you are fortunate enough to have been able to purchase solar panels which will pay for themselves in ten years. In the UK such a panel would cost a little under £8000.00 The simple fact is that here and in the US, there are a great many people who simply cannot afford such an outlay, even with a government subsidy. A cheaper unit at around £1000.00 is available, but would it perform so well and last so long? You would also have to question whether the outlay is worth it for something which can just about boil a kettle.


The model is working just fine.

I disagree. The current model is coping, just about. But is under enormous pressure and the situation will only get worse as the 'emerging nations' demand more.

The people of India, China and the like, are beginning to see how very comfortably the west lives and they are realising that it is all off the back of their cheap labour. They are beginning to demand a better standard of living, which we will have to pay for. So say goodbye to the cheap imports. And of course, as their standard of living improves, they will want cars, motorcycles and holidays in far flung corners of the world. This will put still more strain on the oil situation.

The only way to deter India, China and the rest from high consumption of oil is by our own example. Until we can find a suitable substitute for oil, we must reduce our consumption.

If we continue to use energy at the current increasing rate, the cost will bring about a global collapse far worse than the one we are in now. The futuristic fictional inequality of the energy haves and have nots could become reality.
« Last Edit: 05/12/2010 06:15:36 by Don_1 »
 

Offline Don_1

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What renewable energy sources are there?
« Reply #11 on: 05/12/2010 06:23:12 »
.....geothermal systems have a downside too. They cause earthquakes.

I was rather thinking of where geothermal activity already breaks through the crust, as I think Iceland does, using the hot water for heating.
 

Offline Don_1

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« Reply #12 on: 05/12/2010 06:31:19 »
I think they recently installed a huge underwater turbine off the coast of Scotland to produce electricity from tidal action.

At a cost of £50 million it will generate enough power for 1000 homes. They still don't know how it will stand up to the elements yet. Presumably, if it all goes to plan, future turbines will cost a whole lot less, but I don't think they are saying what the cost would be.
 

Offline CliffordK

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« Reply #13 on: 05/12/2010 09:14:09 »
There are different types of tidal generators.

One of the oldest ones is the Rance tidal plant that has been in operation since 1966, and according to reports, it has paid off its capital cost.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rance_tidal_power_plant

Notes do indicate that changing the tidal flow has changed the eco-systems, and one has to determine if that is acceptable. 

Certainly there are different types of generators, from classic "Dam" types to less intrusive "Flow" types.

If I was considering Tidal Generation, I'd consider a dam, or a series of dams across the Baja Peninsula.  It would be a monumental task, but should be able to generate a tremendous amount of energy.  And, yes, I'm sure there are some fish that would not deal well with it.
 

Offline billinthewoods

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« Reply #14 on: 05/12/2010 09:32:39 »
unfortunately i think we always come back to the problem of- energy consumption damages some form of environment.
we build wind turbines, its bad for birds, we build offshore farms, its bad for fish, we build nuclear, its bad for us, we burn coal its bad for everything.
also unfortunate is the fact that any industry that makes even the least damaging technology, in my opinion photovoltaics, causes damage in order to make them. plastics, glass, metals, all materials that need an industry to make and utilise.
catch 22 methinks.
personally i think that we need to become more individual with our energy usage and production, rather than large plants we need smaller, home specific plants.
we use 2 waterwheels, they generate 9 kw. we have had to divert the water by a very small amount, we cut out only a small stream and the water goes directly back into its original watercourse, its not ideal but its the best available to us.
we also use biodeisel, which is not palm oil it is recycled chip oil.

this is enough to power a yurt, 2 small homes with 2 small people in each and our mushroom factory. the deisel powers 3 cars also. all in all it has cost us about 15k.

we applied for a carbon trust grant but they forwarded us to "their contractors" and they then offered us an interest free £40,000 loan to do the very same. therein lies the cost problem, overcharging contractors and customer tied into it.
« Last Edit: 05/12/2010 09:36:18 by billinthewoods »
 

Offline Don_1

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« Reply #15 on: 05/12/2010 11:45:21 »

personally i think that we need to become more individual with our energy usage and production, rather than large plants we need smaller, home specific plants.

I wouldn't entirely disagree with you on that Bill, but, as you have discovered, there are considerable financial constraints which would put such systems well beyond the reach of the vast majority and it is not only a financial barrier. There is also the lack of space. In cities with high population concentrations, such as London, Cardiff, Paris, New York, Berlin etc etc, there simply isn't the space available for such systems.

It is estimated that the average American requires 1.2 acres for sustenance, I should think we Europeans aren't far behind. But this does not include energy requirements. Vast swathes of wild forest have been devastated for food and materials production and very much more is now falling to biodiesel production. This presents many problems for wildlife. Apart from the lack of space for the simple acts of everyday life, these vast swathes of human encroachment leave isolated pockets of wildlife, which restricts healthy mixed gene pools. Also, these vast areas of monoculture can be damaging to the environment and, perhaps, in the long term to themselves.

Using an assortment of renewables may be the answer in the short term, but unless we can find an energy source to replace oil in the not too distant future, I think mankind will have little or no option but to desert the big cities and towns and revert to a well dispersed, locally sustained society.


Some might say I paint a bleak and simplistic picture of the future, but I would challenge them to give me an example of a genuinely eco friendly energy source which is affordable, practical and can fulfils the task which oil currently does.
 

Offline billinthewoods

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« Reply #16 on: 05/12/2010 13:27:22 »
its a stinker aint it. the only real answer to energy consumption and "saving our planet" is to have less people, and thats been tried by a few unsavoury types and is entirely NOT the way forward.
ill do a damn sight more than shake the hand of the man, or woman, that finds the answer, but i dont see it coming any time soon.

i for one am glad i have my hovel that i can retreat to and pay nothing for electricity or food, apart from the obvious startups. i higly recommend such a life but couldnt do it without people still working in industry to provide me with the materials and science i need.
ever increasing catch 22.

i watched a program, wallace and gromit something or other, an African guy built a wind turbine to pump water and provide electricty with extremely low costs. we have to pay high costs because of the world we live in. wind turbines and the associated equipment are expensive to us because of supply and demand. having said that, you try building one big enough to power London out of drain pipe and bicycle wheels lol
 

Offline Don_1

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« Reply #17 on: 05/12/2010 14:24:23 »
Stone the crows Bill, I do believe you may have inadvertently killed two birds with one stone here. (Oh look, a pun slipped in there.) How to solve London’s energy requirements and what to do with the Olympic stadia once the 2012 games are over.
I shall get on to this straight away.

Mr Ken Livingstone
Former Mayor of London & champion of the 2012 London Olympics
C/o The Knut Hutch
Home for booted out and moronic ex politicians
Expenses Paid House,
Conalot Rd
Swindle
Payitbackshire
TH3 1VE

Dear Mr Livingstone,

Further to my letter re the cost to London ratepayers of their contributions to the Olympic event.

I am now willing to forego the repayment of my contribution to this event (currently standing at 265 Walnut Whips + interest = 287 Walnut Whips) in favour of free energy which will be supplied by the Olympic Heritage Foundation when the Olympic stadia become the next pain in the arse Millennium Dome dilemma.

Here is the plan……………

Yours hungry for a bit of chocy,

Don_1

 

Offline billinthewoods

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« Reply #18 on: 05/12/2010 14:47:08 »
if there arent enough plastic pipes to go round then Thames water could stick a wheel in front of every leak they find.
cant help but feel this thread going ever-so-slightly awry
 

Offline Don_1

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« Reply #19 on: 05/12/2010 15:07:14 »
A little levity, even in serious matters, helps keep me from going completely bonkers.

.... Thames water could stick a wheel in front of every leak they find.

I don't think there are enough water wheels in the world!

But you have hit on another energy problem; waste. I wonder if anyone has calculated how much energy is wasted due to water leaks, over supply of foodstuffs etc. It is estimated that 20% of the food the UK produces and imports goes to waste.
 

Offline Don_1

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« Reply #20 on: 05/12/2010 15:10:54 »
...... helps keep me from going completely bonkers.

I have a nasty feeling I may regret writting that.
 

Offline billinthewoods

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« Reply #21 on: 05/12/2010 18:03:20 »
...... helps keep me from going completely bonkers.

I have a nasty feeling I may regret writting that.

i think you may be right.


i dont think its possible to eradicate waste. luckily by using such methods as hydro, wind and light, with the latter 2 there is no problem with waste and with the former the waste can be used for other things.
im sorry that i come back to it but, before the water goes back into the system we have it drop into a "bath/pot/tub" we use that as drinking water, the rest goes back into the watercourse.
and again, i realise that this is not entierly possible in the mainstream (see what i did there?) its easily done on a local level.
wood, wood, wood. it heats, the charcoal can filter and be used on the land, the re-gen can be used for crafts, any waste can be burned, coppice is a damn sight better for the environment than overgrown, overplanted woodland. thats why i live in the woods and why wood is my best friend (no hidden meaning intended)
 

Offline Geezer

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« Reply #22 on: 05/12/2010 18:11:47 »
Why don't they convert that bloody silly London wheel thing into a giant windmill? It ought to be good for a couple of watts  ;D

Ah yes Don. See your point about geothermal on the Earth's surface.
« Last Edit: 05/12/2010 20:57:03 by Geezer »
 

SteveFish

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« Reply #23 on: 05/12/2010 20:33:37 »
I hate to disturb the Bill and Don show, but...

The model I said was working just fine was clearly referring to the fact that people will buy what is least expensive. Renewables are rapidly moving to be less expensive than Fossil fuels, and some are already. If the US were to cut out all the corporate welfare going to fossil fuel and nuclear corporations this process would go faster here.

Solar PV panels compete very well with commercial power in areas where there is plenty of sun. My example of having 2K of PV was actually my total investment. My wife and I are living on 900 watts of panels, and we also share this same system with my daughter and her family next door. 450 watts/household is about what all my closest neighbors have. When I switched over to PV and had to think about how I was spending my power the demand dropped dramatically, and my quality of life actually improved. We and our daughter's household each have separate satellite internet and 5 computers between us. We don't have TV but we both have DVD players and screens. We have blenders, clothes washers, microwaves and other such stuff. All it took was a small change in attitude and planning. The rest of the PV I purchased for the new house that I am constructing myself. It is partly set up to run power tools. As the cost of electricity goes up, I am laughing.

Commercial solar thermal electric can store heat in order to provide continuous power.

The bird kill from big wind generators is minuscule. One of the early fields, I think at Altamont, was put in a major bird flyway, but others that are not in a flyway don't kill many birds.

A geothermal electric plant in Switzerland, near a population center, caused a 3 Richter scale quake. Around here this would not even make the local news, and we talk about how they are fun. Fortunately, there are plenty of regions for dry hot rock wells that are far away from population centers.

What is needed to make all of the separate commercial scale renewables work is a smart grid and the new very high voltage DC transmission lines in order to connect regions together that are far apart. I think I saw a plan to put solar in Africa and send the power to Europe and there is a plan on the east coast of the US to put a string of offshore wind mills that would cover a big enough north/south region so that the system would produce continuous power.

The most important thing to make renewables work is conservation, insulation, and solar thermal hot water and yes, as much as is possible, distributed electrical power at the household and community level.

All that said, I am pretty pessimistic. There are organizations who are actively working very hard to keep this from happening just to squeeze more profit from fossil fuels.

Steve
« Last Edit: 05/12/2010 20:39:58 by SteveFish »
 

Offline CliffordK

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« Reply #24 on: 05/12/2010 21:54:26 »
I do like the idea of distributed power generation.

And, think that all new construction should include a $10K (or more) solar electric, and solar Hot Water system (at least where you get a reasonable amount of sunshine).

Also consider passive cooling in the locations that need it.

Wind power is great where one has wind...  I never seem to have a lot of wind down near the ground where I'm at, and many lots aren't setup for personal wind generators.
 

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