ALTERNATIVE ENERGY NEWS
Alternative Energy News has the latest on alternative energy technology including: tidal power, wave power, fuel cell technology, landfill gas extraction, geothermal energy, the Smart Grid, nuclear fusion and nuclear fission. If it’s not oil, coal or natural gas it’s an alternative energy. One day, we hope, that in this country it will just be called energy.
_The Complete Idiots Guide to the Smart Grid 11.22.11
_Here’s a problem that the rest of the world—and certainly NBN—might envy: too much energy. This piece in the New York Times talks about Northwest Utilities’ problems storing all the excess energy created by the many wind turbines being put-up in the Pacific Northwest. Welcome to ground zero of the Smart Grid: Taking electricity from different sources, in different amounts at different times and channeling it to meet every customer's needs all the time. Under present conditions in this country that sounds like an impossible task that's foolish to pursue. But think about Northwest Utility's problem in the story above. Then go out for a drive and count the number of roofs you see hosting solar panels. Depending on where you live, that number is going to check in at about 1 in 20, or so. We completely fabricated that figure, but the chart above and a quick Google Earth spin around the country seems to bear us out. Now imagine every roof in the country has solar panels fixed to it. Could we see the problem of too much power popping up all over the country?
_For that we have to juggle a few numbers and given the number of variables involved, not the least of which is available sunlight, this may also seem futile. Let's do it anyway. According to this chart and a crude estimate of 170-200 watts per panel with direct sunlight, an American home in full family maintenance mode—water heater, air conditioner/heater, computer, oven, TV and a half dozen lightbulbs aglow—needs at least 30 panels in full sunlight to keep things going. That's 600 sq. ft. of solar panels. Those kinds of numbers suggest green energies could never replace fossil fuels.
East Hampton NY: Home Occupation Rate= 50 days/yr
_ But what about the house that just needs a refrigerator and TV or computer? And what about communities where second homes dominate, or with vacant office buildings? Plaster those with solar panels, and maybe a small wind turbine or two, and make that unused power available to the neighbor or housing development down the street. when you look at it that way, the scales start to tip back toward the promise of alternative energy, particularly solar. That’s the challenge of the Smart Grid: Collecting small amounts of electricity produced everywhere and getting it to where it’s needed, when it’s needed. That’s no small task and with zero profit potential to drive this mammoth infrastructure challenge, one has to wonder the wisdom of pursuing it. Why not just mine all the fossil fuels we can and expect, with some justification, that technologies yet-to-be-developed will find a solution. .
The Smart Grid: Power from everywhere going everywhere.
_ Let’s get back to the 19 homes that don’t have solar panels. If every single home has solar panels, and a little turbine fixed to it, we start to see an awful lot power generation potential in the highly developed areas where it’s most needed. Still, we're far from where these sources will produce too much electricity as is the problem with the wind turbines in the Northwest. If a building produces more solar power than it needs, can't that just be dumped into the existing rid without worrying how smart that grid is? Yes that would mean one building's electricity could go to power another, but it gets the county off fossil fuels. Once again we run into the same the problem: Do we invest in a future that most folks making that investment won’t live to enjoy? This is where global warming may well be the western world’s greatest accomplishment. It may well be that global warming forces our hand here.
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