Jan 9, 2018

Alternative Energy Sources

Alternative Energy Sources & How Good they are for You, the Consumer

From solar panel installations on your roof or lawn; alternative energy choices are pricey. Most people are not able to foot thousands of dollars upfront to be able to save money down the road. Now don't get me wrong, it will save you money in the long run and it is good for the environment, but is this bill something that consumers should foot? Why hasn't the government funded such things to help the greater good? In this set of blogs we will examine the alternative energy sources and what changes have been implemented that are to help the consumers pockets...

"The Arizona Corporation Commission voted four to one in December 2016 to end net metering as we know it. Luckily, rooftop PV customers will receive full retail-rate benefits from electricity that their systems produce and use immediately, but any energy exported to the grid will be credited at a lower-than-retail rate. Initially, this rate will be based on the price of utility scale solar plants; it’s expected to be about 70% of current retail rates, and will step down each year. Under the new scheme—to be implemented later in 2017, after specific hearings for each utility—new customers will be able to lock in this export rate for 10 years. Current customers will grandfathered into net metering for 20 years from the time they connected to the grid. It’s going to be an interesting new world for solar installers here in Arizona, and wherever else net metering is rolled back. Our company has been looking at how we can be more efficient—and we’ll need to be, since I estimate we’ll have to cut our installed cost by as much as 15% each year if we want to keep simple system payback to less than 10 years. On the other hand, we’re excited about the long-term promise of storage and
energy management technologies. Unfortunately, mailbox letters from readers it is in no way a cost-effective solution today, because our retail electricity rates in Arizona are only $0.09 to $0.14 per kWh. Currently, energy storage is significantly more expensive than the difference between retail rates and export rates. But if storage costs drop to 25% to 50% of current levels, it’ll be a whole new world." 
-Home Power Magazine April 2017

Alternative water heating options have grown in the last ten years. More and more people are going "off grid" and the way prices for electricity are rising; I don't blame them. Products have become to be more readily available to consumers looking to implement sources that are not so typical in the home. Though many sources have covered the topic; some have left out one important alternative option: Wood Pellet Burners. This review will tell you more about that option when heating your home.
 "Your article about off-grid water heating in HP177 was very thorough but failed to mention wood pellet boilers as a possibility for wood-fired water heating. Many of your readers are the pioneering type who may enjoy cutting, splitting, stacking, storing, and feeding firewood into a stove or boiler, but some of us do not have the access to a wood lot or the time for handling firewood, or may be physically incapable of doing that work. I have an integrated heating system that uses a 600-gallon tank as pictured in your article. One of the heat exchangers is connected to a BioWIN pellet-fired boiler, and the others to a domestic hot water, a solar hot water, and a radiant heating system. By connecting to a large tank, the boiler burns with incredible efficiency (>90%). It puts out very low levels of particulates, so it can be used in cities that restrict wood burning. It also requires very little maintenance—about two hours per year—and runs automatically, like a propane boiler. It has an automatic feeding system, so it does not require constant firetending. For older folks, a big plus is bulk delivery of pellets, available in many parts of the country, so even handling the bags of pellets is eliminated. In short, it uses a renewable fuel source, has low maintenance, high efficiency, and automatic functioning—qualities that are hard to beat in a water-heating system. The only drawback is the boiler’s high initial cost." 

 Earlier we stated that maybe the government should help these expensive cost to maek the home more energy efficient. Luckily they are making headway but it's more for themselves than the consumer. Wind turbines producing power has been in the makings for a while now and are on a larger scale of access. Utility-scale wind turbines have overtaken nuclear energy in global power-generating capacity, and outstripped solar by more than three to one in electrical energy production. The technology is mature, growing fast, and producing cheap electricity. Home-scale wind energy is less mature, and often doesn’t compete with solar as well. This article will help you understand what small wind turbines can do, and what engineering approaches work best. 
Globally, small wind turbines represent less than 1% of the total wind-generating capacity, but they do have their place when properly sited and installed. Design Evolution Wind turbines convert wind power to mechanical power. The earliest applications were windmills that performed essential tasks like grinding grain and pumping water. At first these were “panemones,” vertical shafts driven by crude sails that were blown downwind on one side and made their way back upwind on the other side of a central shaft. Next there was a huge technical breakthrough, and the sails were mounted on a horizontal shaft so that they worked by lift instead of drag, sailing across the wind instead of being carried before it. This meant that they could work all the time throughout the revolution of the shaft, with improved efficiency. Nineteenth-century water-pumping windmills in the United States were designed to produce as much torque as possible at lower wind speeds, using many blades. This technology was enormously successful, with millions of units installed. It is not surprising, then, that the first electricity producing windmill, built in 1888 by Charles F. Brush, was of the same design. The resulting machine was enormously heavy, with 144 blades and 1,800 square feet of surface area. Although the turbine operated successfully for 20 years and supplied his home with electricity, it was an unwieldy and inefficient machine. A more-efficient turbine uses high rotational speed, not high torque. Fewer blades, moving by wind but faster, can capture more of the available energy in the wind. European windmills with four sails had the advantage over multi-blade ones, and by 1918 there were more than 100 windmills of that classic type supplying electricity to Danish utilities.

We should follow suit and invest more in things like this that are for the greater good not just for the financial increase. But again, we are still looking into the issue and gaining information to bring it to you. What do you think thus far? 

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