By: Alison Riesing
Agricultural Education Major
In the past, clean energy was thought to be only for the wealthy. No More! Clean energy is now a realistic alternative for the average citizen. There are even several options to choose from depending on location and preference. These options include solar energy, wind energy, geothermal, and tidal energy. I will be focusing on solar energy because this is the energy that I am most excited about, followed in a close second by wind energy. Continue reading to learn more about these clean energy’s.
Solar energy is the most popular form of clean energy. The main reason for this, if you could not guess, is that everywhere has sunlight. We shouldn’t continue to pay to dig, harvest, refine, and transport fossil fuels when we can buy and setup a solar panel like any other type of appliance.
The only problem that faced solar energy in the past was storage. This was not always a hindrance. A man that my father knows rigged his solar panels to a car battery, then he rigged the battery to run his TV and computers at night. It is nit optimal to have car batteries siting around the house, but where there is a will there is a way. Today we have batteries designed to store solar energy.
Figure 1 from greenenergyjubilation.com
Solar energy is suitable for individual homes, businesses, or even augmenting a city’s already existing power grid. The Tesla company is in the process of building a factory that only runs on clean energy. There are also several companies, colleges, and even high schools that are augmented almost completely with solar energy.
For those that live in a typically cloudy area, solar can still be for you. A person would need to look at their areas ‘solar budget’. This might lead you to only augmenting your current power supply, or adding a couple of additional panels to gather more sunlight.
The fact is that we have a solar powered space craft that has been successfully launched several times and already have solar powered cars on the road. We now need to advertise the fact that these alternatives are available and affordable! The largest amount of energy I have used in a month is 500 kilowatts. According to the solar calculator at wholesalesolar.com I would need a system that can produce 5555 watts. According to news.energysage.com this solar system would cost me $15,000 after a single federal tax rebate. That may seem like a lot, but in the long run and with some additional rebates it really is not that expensive. This site has even stated that these prices have dropped about nine percent from 2016. I have even run across some sites and articles that mention payment plans. I greatly encourage you to do the math for your area and see if solar panels are in your near future.
Figure 2 from dfwsolarelectric.com
The following information is form the website altenergy.org. I recommend that if you have any interest in the following energies that you post a blog as well to share the information.
“Wind Power. The movement of the atmosphere is driven by differences of temperature at the Earth’s surface due to varying temperatures of the Earth’s surface when lit by sunlight. Wind energy can be used to pump water or generate electricity, but requires extensive areal coverage to produce significant amounts of energy.”
This is no longer true. They have now come out with a wind energy turbine that is roughly about 18 feet tall. They have also solved some of the problems form the originals. They have made them bladeless, so they will no longer induce seizure, throw ice chunks, or harm the local wildlife. They have also made them nearly silent. This means they will no longer drowned out all other sounds.
Figure 3 above from iniegogo.com and on the bottom from youtube.com
“Hydrogen and fuel cells. These are also not strictly renewable energy resources but are very abundant in availability and are very low in pollution when utilized. Hydrogen can be burned as a fuel, typically in a vehicle, with only water as the combustion product. This clean burning fuel can mean a significant reduction of pollution in cities. Or the hydrogen can be used in fuel cells, which are similar to batteries, to power an electric motor. In either case significant production of hydrogen requires abundant power. Due to the need for energy to produce the initial hydrogen gas, the result is the relocation of pollution from the cities to the power plants. There are several promising methods to produce hydrogen, such as solar power, that may alter this picture drastically.”
“Geothermal power. Energy left over from the original accretion of the planet and augmented by heat from radioactive decay seeps out slowly everywhere, [every day]. In certain areas the geothermal gradient (increase in temperature with depth) is high enough to exploit to generate electricity. This possibility is limited to a few locations on Earth and many technical problems exist that limit its utility. Another form of geothermal energy is Earth energy, a result of the heat storage in the Earth’s surface. Soil everywhere tends to stay at a relatively constant temperature, the yearly average, and can be used with heat pumps to heat a building in winter and cool a building in summer. This form of energy can lessen the need for other power to maintain comfortable temperatures in buildings, but cannot be used to produce electricity.”
Figure 4 from youtube.com
“Other forms of energy. Energy from tides, the oceans and hot hydrogen fusion are other forms that can be used to generate electricity. Each of these is discussed in some detail with the final result being that each suffers from one or another significant drawback and cannot be relied upon at this time to solve the upcoming energy crunch.”
Figure 5 from offshorewind.biz
We already have designed and use many different forms of clean energy. Now we only need to refine the designs we already have. If we put all the energy we put into improving our gizmos into clean energy, even if for only a year, think where we will be. I cannot wait until everyone in the world is no longer dependent on fossil fuels, if for no other reason than cost alone.