Wind Energy and the Economy!

We feel it virtually every week- the strong or sometimes subtle feeling of air rushing against us- wind energy. Wind energy is so prospective in part due to its far less greenhouse-gas emission properties as compared to fossil fuels. Wind energy is classified as renewable, under the condition that there is wind and that one day all wind and air currents cease to exist. While many argue for more windmills and turbines, it is important to note that wind energy is less efficient than coal or natural gas, in part due to the the irregularity of wind’s nature. A Purdue University study that models increased wind production in 10 states shows significant economic impact in those states, as well as billions of dollars spread over the rest of the country. This study stated thatwind power in the top 10 wind-producing states would create billions of dollars of economic impact. States that add wind power would see about $24 billion in activity, while other states would see $3 billion in spillover economic activity. This amount of money and economic activity is worth looking at, especially as a potential for future investors at home and abroad. A fun fact is that the U.S. currently has more than 100,000 MW of operating wind capacity, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Thus, adding 500 MW in 10 states would be only a 5% increase but would have significant economic benefits. Coal and other fossil fuels are much cheaper, but are nonrenewable…making a case for a bigger future for wind energy in the United States and around the world…We’ll just have to see!

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Solar power and its feasibility

To begin with, the pursuit of sustainable energy is something that not many countries are able to afford. Developing countries have a much harder time becoming more sustainable due to cost of these renewable energy. But to tailor this more specifically to the solar power, it is a relatively expensive renewable energy. According to U.S. DOE’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) ¨it’s the most expensive form of electricity among current technologies for new electricity generation, about $396 per megawatthour for PV.¨ It is roughly twice the amount of other energy such as wind. Therefore, commercial-level application is probably very difficult. On campus, the only housing that had the solar power is the Garnett, and it is not even enough to sustain the energy that runs in the building. However, it should be a goal to strive towards, especially for the US as a developed nation!



No more Sweltering with Solar Power!

When it comes to being sustainable, it’s important to use renewable energy in terms of specific situations such as air pollution and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in fossil fuels.  For instance, I want to talk about instead of using electrical heaters, the usage of of solar thermal heating.  With solar thermal heating there is a 60% less energy used to heat water, and 35% less energy is used for spaced heating,  so already there is conservation of energy when it comes to renewable energy vs. fossil fuels.  Economically, there is a Lower purchase price when using solar thermal heating systems, and cost less when it comes to reparations and maintenance.  There are two options when it comes to solar collectors.  There are flat plate collectors and evacuated tube collectors, with the only major difference being flat plate collectors using insulation material such as rock wool or polyurethane.  Flat Panel collectors are quite a common purchase in southern climates, while evacuated tube collectors are more useful for winter temperatures where it drops at 40 degrees fahrenheit or lower, with the tubes retaining a high percentage of heat.  Solar heating in general is reliable and flexible, working well with a heat pump or pellet heating.  Overall, if you’re looking for a heating system option that has no CO2 operations when in use, consider replacing  your electrical heating system with solar thermal heating!




The Feasibility of Solar Power

Solar energy is a very popular source of alternative energy. It’s made leaps and bounds in technology in recent years, and it is frequently discussed in the media. When someone brings up green/alternative energy, solar power is most likely one of the first powers to come to mind. Today, I am hoping to examine the details of solar power, and break down whether or not it deserves its status as the face of renewable energy, or should we look elsewhere?

Currently, solar technology is a pretty expensive. To produce the panels and set them up properly costs a large sum of money, and the returns on solar energy can be a little lacking, as seen by the solar energy generated by a  10 x 10 m. solar panel over the course of one day.

This energy cannot compete with the energy necessary to run a car, much less a flight. However, a 10x10m. solar panel is the size of  an average roof, and this would just be the amount of energy generated for one house for one day. When combining this energy with that of a solar panel farm, these are the energy returns.

More than enough energy. I think that it’s important that we use solar in conjunction with other types of renewable energy, as the advantages of solar power isn’t it’s ability to generate a lot of power all at once, but a large amount of stored power over a long time. Using solar farms in conjunction with wind and personal solar panels can generate more than enough energy for just one day, and putting time and effort into storing that energy to use over a long time could be very advantageous, and create more than enough energy to be used in a green and renewable way.


Wind Power

Wind energy is a form of non fossil-fuel energy that, if utilized more, could help us to get closer to a more sustainable future.  Wind energy uses wind turbines in order to produce electricity out of kinetic energy created by wind.  However, wind energy has a lot of aspects that can be seen as issues, which is why it isn’t used more broadly today.  To start, the cost of installation of wind turbines is always an issue, as the larger they are, the more energy they produce, but they are in turn, more expensive.  Commercial applications are difficult as well, as wind turbines usually need to be in rural areas for them to generate as much energy as possible (and are very large, so difficult to install in less rural areas,) but then have to send their energy off to more populated places.  Finally, wind energy is unreliable because the amount of wind produced in a day cannot be controlled, so the amount of power produced may not be consistent.  Although wind turbines are becoming less expensive as prices drop and they become more available (in 2016, wind energy was 16% of all energy produced by renewable sources), we have a long way to go before wind power replaces fossil fuels.

Tidal Energy

Tidal energy has the potential to be the future for harvesting energy. Tidal power is made through the natural cycles of the world’s tides which is caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and other celestial bodies. Tidal energy could function as a significant replacement for traditional electric production from coal. With tidal energy, it is all about finding the most effective location for capturing the tide. The most productive spots are where the range between high tide and low tide is the largest. There are three ways in which tidal energy can be captured; tidal turbines, tidal lagoons, and tidal barrages. Tidal energy is sustainable, renewable, eco-friendly, and is more effective than wind power systems. Like many other new energy routes and potential solutions to environmental issues, there are a lot of barriers to consider when implementing them that slow down the process.

Geeking for Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy is a great source of renewable energy that has yet to become as mainstream in conversation as other sources like water, wind, solar power. For one, it is renewable and therefore more sustainable and better for the environment than coal and other fossil fuels. The rate of extraction for geothermal heat is so that the demand does not outweigh the supply. Another benefit of geothermal energy is that is can produce energy despite any weather conditions. While a great renewable option, solar power relies on weather conditions, and can’t operate 24/7 like geothermal energy. Additionally, geothermal energy could be harnessed both domestically and imported, making it a valuable asset. Geothermal power plants do not emit greenhouse gases and they consume less water than other plants.

Solar Power & Its Applications

Solar energy is a commonly referenced form of alternative energy in the conversation regarding the rising global temperatures and the consequences of human impact on our world. The sun is both a highly relevant and accessible form of alternative power, and solar panels, especially as of late, have begun to crop up, and many people have made the choice to install them into their own homes as a form of energy production and usage. According to the site Sustainable Energy – without the hot air, the raw power produced by sunshine on a clear day is ~ 1000 watts per square meter of land facing the sun, not ordinary land area. Because of the tilt of the Earth’s axis (~23.5 degrees), the calculations of sun that is able to be utilized in the form of solar energy needs to be accounted for. This leaves about 60% of viable solar power left over at the equator that is available to be used as an energy source when taking into account the tilt of the Earth’s axis. In the UK, sunshine is available for ~34% of the daylight hours, and the average intensity during more mild seasons is ~32%. Solar energy is more or less feasible in terms of a long-term energy source in that it is always available, but based on the changing seasons, particularly in temperate countries like the United Kingdom and the United States and Canada, the intensity levels and amount of power that can be drawn from the sun is highly variable and largely dependent upon the current season. Summarily, the average intensity per unit of land area in the UK is 100 watts per square meter. Additionally, four potential uses of solar energy include solar thermal energy, solar photovoltaic energy, solar biomass, and food in the form of solar biomass which would subsequently be consumed by humans and other animals. In terms of vitality and relevance, solar thermal energy is useful insofar as that it produces low-grade energy, and can produce heat, but this heat cannot be transmitted to the electricity grid, and is therefore wasted should it not be needed. Wind turbines are a more reliable source in this regard. Solar photovoltaic (PV) energy panels convert sunlight into electricity at an efficiency rate of ~10%. Expensive panels operate at a rate of about ~20%. With high-grade technology and proper installation, the best PV panels operate at an efficiency rate of ~60%, which is not bad. Solar biomass also provides an alternative solution and food source in the sense that we can grow specific plants and dispose of them in a power station that will turn the waste/by-products of human consumption into electricity, heat, or both. We can also grow and harvest plants that can be then transformed into fuels like ethanol and diesel fuel for engines and the like, this providing another substantial, and ethical, alternative form of fuel for transportation. In short, solar energy is both viable and readily accessible, and I think it is defiantly a form of energy worth considering.

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Wind energy

Wind energy uses wind turbines to harness energy to convert it into electricity. Wind energy does not rely on fossil fuels to power wind turbines, therefore being beneficial at not contributing to climate change. It is one of the cleanest forms of energy, though not completely perfect. The biggest disadvantage of these wind turbines is that they are not extremely reliable due to wind energy not being consistent. It is difficult to predict the amount of energy wind can produce on a given day, therefore the amount of energy may vary based on the windy conditions. In terms of the economic impacts of wind energy, this kind of energy is fairly expensive. Wind turbines are very big and therefore a massive investment to install on a large scale. Commercial level application is also difficult because of the logistics of where to build turbines. Usually they are built in a rural area, but then underground lines needs to be installed to send power to more populated areas. In the long run, wind turbines are extremely effective once they are built and as technology continues to improve it will get even more functional and require less maintenance.

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Impact of “Meatless Monday”

I asked my friends how many days a week they eat a meal that includes meat. I wanted to ask this question because I’ve been a vegetarian for about 10 years, so it was interesting to compare the impact my friends’ eating habits to mine. A lot of initiatives have done research that shows eating vegetarian for just one day a week can reduce the impact that the meat industry has on global warming. For example, the Meatless Monday campaign states that eating less meat “can help reduce the incidence of chronic preventable diseases, preserve precious land and water resources, and combat climate change.” As you can see in the column chart above, Laura and Keerthi have the most sustainable impact with only 5 non-vegetarian meals per week.


About Meatless Monday