Our increasing reliance on natural gas brings with it both opportunities and dangers during the shift towards renewable energy. This issue deals with some major issues regarding natural gas deployment in industry, power generation, food production, and heating.
Demand side management helps make our power grid more cost-effective and aids in the transition towards renewable energy. It can also be considered as a very green policy on its own, as it reduces the amount of power we need to produce, and thus our impact on the environment.
Everything has its price. Every form of power production has costs in dollars, time, land, materials, pollutants, greenhouse gas emissions, and human deaths. We look at the most important factors for analyzing the feasibility of a proposed power project. Considering only some of these factors will lead to an incomplete picture of power system costs.
Wind power expert Paul Gipe advocates that we deliberately create our green energy future rather than wait around for it to happen. He says that we should aim to democratize our energy production for a more prosperous future.
Land usage for power systems is a common comparison metric. We demonstrate here that the comparison cannot be conducted meaningfully on such simplistic grounds. Additional factors must be taken into consideration.
Hydroelectricity, or ‘hydro’, is generated from the energy in the water cycle of the earth. The sun evaporates water on the surface of the earth, causing it to rise up to form clouds. Clouds eventually form droplets, which then rain, snow, or hail down to the surface. Water on the surface flows downhill until it evaporates again. During this time it may become trapped in glaciers, lakes, ponds, puddles, or the ocean. Driven by the sun, the water cycle is a truly renewable resource.
The intent of this publication is an ongoing investigation of the progress and potential of renewable energy in our world. Our goal is to collect the best writing and news on the subject of renewable energy projects and policies. We have observed that humanity is innovating rapidly as the energy security of the future becomes a global priority. Current trends indicate that the age of coal will end before we run out of coal.
Vision of Earth is the host of the newly created renewable energy review. This is a blog carnival attempting to look at the development of renewable energy in the world today. Submitted articles will be judged on their quality, accuracy, and relevance. Once enough high-quality submissions are accumulated for a publication, our editors will write a brief review piece, linking to these novel contributions. We intend to comment meaningfully on the developments in renewable energy in our world.
We have been captivated for a long time by the intriguing possibilities inherent in combining Manitoba’s extensive hydro resources with Saskatchewan’s high-quality wind power. A number of other groups in Saskatchewan have been lobbying for greater interconnection between the two power grids to take advantage of the natural synergy that exists between wind power and reservoir-based hydro power.
Solar thermal power generation presents a unique opportunity among renewable technologies today. It is well-understood. Prototypes and commercial power plants of this sort exist. It has capabilities for both baseload and peak-matching power generation. It is affordable in locations with lots of sunlight. Costs are in the range 10-15¢/kWh currently, with great potential for the future.
When wind isn’t blowing hard, use a dispatchable source such as hydro to produce power. Let’s assume that we have 150 MW of hydro on hand to cover the Centennial Wind Farm when the wind isn’t blowing. If we look at entire year of production, we can expect that about 42.4% of all energy will have come from the wind, and that the remaining 57.6% of the energy would have come from the hydro. What is necessary for a system like this to work is to have enough water behind the hydro dam that it can cover a fairly long spell of low winds. This could be as long as several days. If our hydro reservoir is big enough to cover that time, we should be able to cover the intermittent nature of the wind for the whole year. If it isn’t big enough, we will have to get our power from elsewhere. Perhaps importing it from neighboring grids or by using another source such as natural gas.
What people really want is reliable power. We don’t want to end up freezing in the dark. Electricity is important enough to our society that our energy security is of great importance to us. This is a fundamental issue that all technically advanced nations have to face.
It would be a mistake to equate baseload with reliable. Baseload power sources still have to turn off sometimes. In some cases, the downtimes for the big thermal plants such as nuclear and coal can be several percent of their lifetimes. If our power grid were based off of only baseload sources of this type we might see rolling blackouts now and then unless we built extra power plants to cover the downtime.
A power utility has to have the capability of calling into service enough power to make up for the loss of its largest generator on short notice. For a nuclear generator, this would be between 300 and 2000 MW. In our home province of Saskatchewan, the largest single generator SaskPower has to keep backup capacity for currently is a 300MW coal unit. However, if the entire Boundary Dam facility went down, the Saskatchewan system could be missing as much as 813 MW of power.
Energy storage is the saving some form of energy for later use. Energy is critical to every accomplishment of humans. This energy can take many forms. Some examples include potential, kinetic, chemical, and nuclear energy.
Energy storage is critical to the stable function of a power grid. Inevitably, power stations have to be serviced or have failures. Even failures that are a fraction of a second can be disastrous for certain applications, such as monitoring systems for heavy machinery, computers, and other sensitive electronics. Stability of power is a key factor in the design of an effective power grid. Stability requires that there be backup systems in place in case of a baseline power failure. Energy storage is required for most backup systems to be effective.
“Wind Power” is the extraction of energy from the wind. Common techniques use a tower with a set of propeller blades that will spin when wind blows against them. Wind power is a renewable form of energy because wind is caused by the uneven heating of the earth by the sun.