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Published on March 11, 2008

Author: Sarah

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Pros & Cons of Alternative Energy:  Pros & Cons of Alternative Energy The facts about what goes into making alternative energies, and how beneficial they really are. SOLAR:  SOLAR Image from www.fuelfromthesun.com According to “Our Solar Power Future,” recent studies of policy options for growing solar markets shows that half of all U.S. electricity generation could come from solar by the year 2025 . Solar Power History:  Solar Power History 1767-Horace de Saussure invented the first solar collector…an oven (Berinstein, 5). Diagram of a Solar Collector Oven, though not the first, this model is still in use. Image from www.solarcooking.com Solar History Continued… :  Solar History Continued… 1876-William Grylls Adams, and his student Richard Day, discovered that when selenium was exposed to light it produced electricity (Fuel From the Sun, np). 1877-Homes are heated by circulating air over a sun-heated iron (Solar History, np). 1891-Clarence Kemp, considered the father of solar energy in the U.S., invented the first commercial solar water heater (Berinstein, 5). The first solar water heaters were metal tanks painted black, filled with water. They were oriented to face the sun. http://www.californiasolarcenter.org/history_solarthermal.html THEN NOW http://www.thermotechs.com/images/Minnea1.jpg Solar History Continued… :  Solar History Continued… Early 1950’s-Development of the Czochralski meter for producing very pure crystalline silicon (Berinstein, 5). In 1953-Calvin Fuller, Gerald Pearson, and Daryl Chapin discovered the silicon solar cell.  This cell actually produced enough electricity and was efficient enough to run small electrical devices (Fuel From the Sun, np). 1954-Bell Telephone Laboratories set the bar first by producing a silicon photovoltaic cell that was 4% efficient (Berinstein, 5). 1956-The first solar cells became available commercially (Fuel From the Sun, np). Solar History Continued… :  Solar History Continued… In 1958, the U.S. Vanguard satellite employed a solar array to power its radio (Berinstein, 5). http://www.bafsat.com/h3.html Solar History Continued… :  Solar History Continued… 1973-The U.S. Department of Energy funded the Federal Photovoltaic Utilization Program in response to the Arab oil embargo (Berinstein, 6). 1978- The National Energy Act is passed that attempted to reduce our dependence on foreign oil through restructuring our system and encouraging the development of alternative energies (Berinstein, 31). In 1982-A serious solar effort was put forth by the US government when the experimental solar central receiver system dubbed “Solar One” was built outside of Barstow, California (Berinstein, 6). Solar One: Baristow CA 1982-1988:  Solar One: Baristow CA 1982-1988 http://www.diebrennstoffzelle.de/alternativen/sonne/images/solarone.gif Solar History Continued… :  Solar History Continued… Between 1982 and 1986 shipments of U.S. photovoltaic cells increased over 500 percent, despite the fact that coal produced the majority of domestic energy (Berinstein, 6). Early 1990’s- when the Gratzel solar cells were developed (Berinstein, 7). Cheap to make, with high light to energy efficiencies. Since 1971, the generating costs for photovoltaic power has decreased by an average of 15 percent annually (Berinstein, 7). In 1996 the cost of a photovoltaic cell was about one-tenth of what they were in 1975. The cost of electricity from utility scale photovoltaic systems in 1995 was estimated by the NREL to be about 21.8 cents per Kw hour (Berinstein, 8). Slide10:  With solar energy on the rise again, refurbished parts from ‘Solar One’ were used to construct ‘Solar 2’ in 1996 outside of Daggett, California (Berinstein, 8). Incentives were offered by 30 states at this time for investment in solar collectors and photovoltaic cells and modules (Berinstein, 8). Even with incentives and increased affordability, solar energy only accounted for 1 percent of the US renewable energy (Berinstein, 8). http://www.solarserver.de/solarmagazin/images/solartwo.jpg Solar Two: Daggett, CA 1996 Solar History Continued… :  Solar History Continued… 1997-President Clinton signed Kyoto protocol to set guidelines for reducing green house gas emissions (Berinstein, 8). At the same time President Clinton announced the Million Solar Roofs initiative, to put solar systems on a million buildings by 2010 (Solar Energy Technologies Program, np). This was not an original idea, Japan already had implemented a successful initiative to put 70,000 systems on roofs in 1994 (SEIA, 5 ). In 1999- A thin-film solar photovoltaic cell composed of copper indium gallium diselenide was made at the NREL with an efficiency that was record breaking for polycrystalline thin films, at a whopping 18.8 percent efficiency (Berinstein, 8). Future of Photovoltaic Technologies:  Future of Photovoltaic Technologies There is many products in the research phase of photovoltaic technologies. One such product is a dye-sensitized cell. This type of cell uses a dye impregnated layer of titanium-dioxide to generate a voltage, verses using the previously discussed semiconductors. This would drastically lower the cost of solar cells (EERE, np). Future of Photovoltaic Cells:  Future of Photovoltaic Cells Some researchers believe that soon laptops and small electronics will be powered by bendable solar cells. These new cells are organic made from pentacene, which are sheets made of rings of hydrogen and carbon that occur naturally. Since the manufacturing process is not as complicated as silicon panels, the organic cells are less expensive (Personal Power, np). http://www.livescience.com/technology/041224_solar_panels.html SOLAR CELLS:  SOLAR CELLS http://www.solarelectricpower.org/ewebeditpro/items/O63F1810.JPG Types of Photovoltaic Technologies::  Types of Photovoltaic Technologies: Single-crystal silicon This is the most efficient except for thin-film gallium arsenide, but very difficult to produce. Polycrystalline silicon This cell is less efficient than single-crystal type, but less expensive to manufacture. Noncrystaline, or amorphous, silicon This type is considered a thin-film type, absorbs light easily, but cannot be reliably or easily mass produced. Photovoltaic Technologies Cont.:  Photovoltaic Technologies Cont. Thin film materials like gallium-arsenide, copper-indium-diselenide, cadmium-telluride These types are easy to manufacture. Gallium-arsenide is the most efficient. The others are less efficient than gallium-arsenide, single-crystal and polycrystalline, but more efficient than amorphous silicon and cheaper to produce than crystalline silicon. These thin film technologies cost less because they only use a small amount of semiconductor material, only a few micrometers thick, attached to an inexpensive backing. What’s so special about Gallium- arsenide?:  What’s so special about Gallium- arsenide? Group III-V Technologies These photovoltaic technologies are based on Group III and V elements of the Periodic Table. They show very high efficiencies under both normal and concentrated sunlight. Single crystal cells of this type are usually made of gallium arsenide (GaAs). Gallium arsenide can be alloyed with different elements such as indium, phosphorous, and aluminum to produce semiconductors that respond to different energies of sunlight. (EERE) Gallium-arsenide Cont.:  Gallium-arsenide Cont. High-Efficiency Multijunctional Cells The idea of alloying gallium-arsenide with other elements to capture different energies of light is applied in High-Efficiency Multijuction Devices, which employ multiple solar cells on top of each other to increase the capture of energy. The top layer captures the highest-energy light, allowing the rest of the light to be passed through and absorbed by the lower layers (EERE, np). Pros of Solar Power:  Pros of Solar Power Green house Gas Reduction For every residential system, green house gas emissions are reduced by the equivalent of taking one car off of the road (SEIA, 11). Inexhaustible Fuel Over 1016 kWh of energy from the sun reaches the Continental United States, this is over 4000 times the amount of energy we use per year (Berinstein, 64). Pros of Solar Power Continued… :  Pros of Solar Power Continued… Modular Multiple solar cells are combined to make a solar panel. A solar array is made of multiple solar panels. They are easily worked into a site, because they can be easily transported and installed. This makes them ideal for rural and urban locations. Low-Maintenance, Simple Solar power is simple because there are no moving parts, no emissions, and no water required. Power can be stored directly into batteries, or fed into the grid, making management of the energy created (Direct Current) very simple. No water Required Solar technologies require no water to make energy, except for possibly a small amount used to clean off the array in dusty areas. Pros of Solar Power Continued… :  Pros of Solar Power Continued… Job Creation For every megawatt of solar power, 32 jobs are supported. Of these jobs 8 are located where the system will be installed (SEIA, 9). Net Metering In areas where net metering is available it is a huge bonus. Net metering allows owners to sell their unused energy to the power company at retail prices. Dual metering requires so much more administrative costs that even though the power company purchases the produced power at wholesale from the owner, requiring the owner to pay retail for their used power, they still don’t break even (Berinstein, 67). Pros of Solar Power Continued… :  Pros of Solar Power Continued… Regenerates Energy Used During Production in Short Time BP claims that one of their solar modules will re-generate the energy used in its manufacturing process depending on the application and location, in between 1 and 4 years (BP, np). Resource Driven Generating Profile is the Cause of the Peak Expensive peak hours of power, are caused because the sun is out warming buildings, causing them to use air conditioning. Since solar power is generated by the same source making so any people turn the power up, it can help to generate power during crucial times. Energy is Still Produced Under Less than Desirable Conditions Southern orientation is most desirable, although east and west facing arrays can still produce up to 80% of the power that a true south system does (BP, np). Cons of Solar Systems:  Cons of Solar Systems Cost The cost of a complete residential utility system can range from $20,000 to 50,000. Some incentives are available for renewable energy; see Appendix A for a table of incentives by state. Emissions Released During Production A small amount of emissions are released in the production of photovoltaic panels. The total amount of emissions during production equals approximately 5-10% of the amount avoided by using a solar system (Berinstein, 66). Hazardous Materials Silicon dust can be harmful if inhaled, and polycrystalline thin film systems contain the hazardous materials arsenic and cadmium (Berinstein, 66). Mass disposal could become an issue, or if the products were to burn. Cons of Solar Power:  Cons of Solar Power Intermittent Source Other negative factors of solar energy is that it is an intermittent resource, not always available in all locations. In order for solar to be the sole energy source, good storage and transmitting systems would be necessary (Berinstein, 64). Though not impossible, the transition would be costly, and most likely have to occur over a number of years. It is because of this intermittent resource that solar should be paired with other renewable resources such as hydroelectric, or wind, to compensate for the deficit during periods of inefficiency. Hydropower:  Hydropower http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter12.html History of Hydropower:  History of Hydropower B.C. Over 2,000 years ago the Greek used hydropower to turn waterwheels for grinding wheat into flower (“History of Hydropower,” np) Mid 1770’s Bernard Forest de Bélidor, a French hydraulic and military engineer, wrote a four volume work in the mid 1770’s called Architecture Hydraulique, which described in detail using vertical axis machines verses horizontal axis machines (“History of Hydropower,” np). It was this work that started the evolution of the modern hydroelectric turbine. 1878 In 1878, the first U.S. hydroelectric power plant was completed at Niagara Falls (Berinstein, 5). Three years later, this plant powered the street lamps in the city with direct current hydropower (“History of Hydropower,” np). Niagara Falls, 1914:  Niagara Falls, 1914 http://www.americaslibrary.gov/assets/jb/reform/jb_reform_niagra_2_e.jpg Source: "Niagara Falls, General View from Hennepin Point, Winter." Copyright 1914. Taking the Long View: Panoramic Photographs, 1851-1991, Library of Congress. Hydropower History Continued… :  Hydropower History Continued… 1880 Michigan’s Grand Rapids Electric Light and Power Company used a dynamo belted to a water turbine to light 16 bush-arc lamps at the Wolverine Chair Factory (“History of Hydropower,” np). 1882 The worlds first hydroelectric power plant opened on the Fox River in Appleton, Wisconsin (“History of Hydropower,” np). The First Hydroelectric Power Plant:  The First Hydroelectric Power Plant Appelton, Wisconsin. 1882. Fox River Hydroelectric Plant. http://www.crmeyer.com/17A-FoxRiverPaperHydro.jpg History of Hydropower Continued… :  History of Hydropower Continued… 1886 In the next four years hydroelectric power plants would sprouted up all over the U.S. and Canada with an estimated 45 plants in 1886 (“History of Hydropower,” np). 1889 An estimated 200 plants used waterpower for some or all of their power generation (“History of Hydropower,” np). 1901 The fedearl government joined in on the action by creating the Federal Water Power Act (“History of Hydropower,” np). 1902 The Bureau of Reclamation was established (“History of Hydropower,” np). 1920 The amount of electrical generation in the U.S. went from 15% in 1907 to 25% in 1920, spurring the Federal Power Act to establish a Federal Power Commission authority to issue licenses for hydro development on public lands (“History of Hydropower,” np). Slide31:  http://www.mcz.harvard.edu/Departments/InvertPaleo/Trenton/Intro/HistoryPage/Social%20History/ThomasHydroplant293w.gif Hydro electric plant along the West Canadian creek in 1951. History of Hydropower Continued… :  History of Hydropower Continued… 1935 The authority of the Federal Power Commission extended to all hydroelectric projects built by utilities engaged in interstate commerce (“History of Hydropower,” np). 1937 The Bonneville Dam was the first Federal dam, and was built on the Columbia River in 1937 (“History of Hydropower,” np). 1940 Hydropower provided 40% of all electrical generation (“History of Hydropower,” np). 1988 A drought caused a 25% drop in output (Berinstein, 7). 2003 Hydropower only accommodated for 10% of U.S. electricity (“History of Hydropower,” np). First Federal Dam: Bonneville Dam:  First Federal Dam: Bonneville Dam http://memory.loc.gov/pnp/fsa/8c22000/8c22800/8c22871r.jpg Cons of Hydropower:  Cons of Hydropower No Future Plans Due to political and environmental issues, no new hydro development is planned in the near future, and a decrease from 10% to 6% is expected (“Hydropower Resource Potential,” np). Limited Resources Potential resources have been developed in the United States , within realistic boundaries, for large plants. There is still potential for small plants and re-engineered large ones (Berinstein, 27). Habitat Displacement River- Diverting water out or away from the stream can result in dried streamside vegetation (“Hydropower Research and Development,” np). Humans- Reservoirs can possibly cover land and river habitats with water, displacing the humans that inhabited the land (“Hydropower Reearch and Development,” np). Cons of Hydropower Continued… :  Cons of Hydropower Continued… Ecological Issues (“Hydropower Research and Development,” np) By damming the river water, insufficient flows can result in degraded riparian habitats for fish and aquatic organisms that reside below the dam. Reservoir water is much stiller than flowing water, and can result in a cesspool for undesirable insects, algae, an aquatic weeds. In some extreme cases, water being dropped from high dams can cause gas-bubble disease in aquatic organisms inhabiting the tail waters, from water becoming supersaturated with nitrogen. Thinking more of the animals, dams can block upstream movement of migratory fish, inhibiting them from reproducing. Another problem associated with fish is that they may be sucked into the intake flow and pass through the turbine, which could result in undesirable physiological effects. Pros of Hydropower:  Pros of Hydropower No emissions Inexpensive Power Research to Decrease Impact Research is underway teaming fisheries biologists with turbine designers to create a more environmentally friendly turbine (“Hydropower Research and Development,” np). Research to Accommodate Growing Needs The U.S. Department of Energy has currently restructured the research and development (R&D) of hydropower in the face of increasing energy issues for the rest of the 21st century (“Hydropower Research and Development,” np). The R&D is now organized around two focus areas: enhancing the viability of hydropower, and expanding the application of hydropower (“Hydropower Research and Development,” np). To enhance the viability of hydropower the DOE is developing new methods which are intended to be more cost effective, with enhanced environmental performance and improved energy efficiencies (“Hydropower Research and Development,” np). It is believed that with the implementation of these new developments, existing hydropower plants would be able to produce 10 percent more energy (“Hydropower Research and Development,” np). Pros of Hydropower Continued… :  Pros of Hydropower Continued… Undeveloped Potential A research assessment was completed by the Department of Energy for 49 states, excluding Delaware due to limited resources (“Hydropower Resource Potential,” np). This study showed that there are 5,677 sites with an undeveloped capacity of approximately 30,000MW (“Hydropower Resource Potential,” np). In comparison there is around 80,000MW of hydroelectric generation in plants today (“Hydropower Resource Potential,” np). Micro-hydro Alternative Micro hydro is a smaller, environmentally friendly solution for small scale applications (DuPont, np). Micro Hydro Power:  Micro Hydro Power http://danny.oz.au/travel/walks/20021227/schlink-pass.html Micro Hydro:  Micro Hydro Acceptable Power Source for Residential Sites Which Fit the Following Criteria (DuPont, np): Location with a 20ft change in elevation with 100gal/min or 100ft head with 20gal/min Location of the turbine to the residence is less than a few hundred feet. Installation Cheaper than Solar To install a system in a good location, a micro hydro system will cost between $2500-$5000 (WWRE, np). The further the residence is from the turbine, the more expense is added to the system. Compatible for Off-grid, as ell as Grid Connected Applications No Emissions Wind Power:  Wind Power Wind power is actually a form of solar power, since the sun heats the earth unevenly forming wind (Berinstein, 99). Wind is not solely created by the sun, because topographical features influence the speed, density, and direction of the wind ( Berinstein, 99). The United States, excluding the southeastern and east central states, has generally good conditions for using wind power (Berinstein, 99). http://www.eere.energy.gov/windandhydro/images/illust_techdrawing.gif Wind Power History:  Wind Power History Ancient Syria (around 200 B.C.) Windmills were used to grind grain and pump water (Wind Energy, np). 17th Century The Dutch began using wind turbines when they employed the use of wind power to drained the Rhine River delta to recover land. This Dutch design would dominate for the next 300 years (DuPont, np). End of 19th Century The American Farm Windmill was invented (Dupont, np) 1920’s The Darrieus turbine was invented in France (Wind Energy,” np). 1930’s Rural Electrification Administration’s programs introduced inexpensive grid power to many rural areas (“History of Wind Energy,” np). Wind Power History Continued… :  Wind Power History Continued… 1942 Once again the Dutch made history by connecting a 200 kW wind turbine to the electric grid (Berinstein, 5). Early 1980’s California was the first state to implement large wind farms, for the generation of municipal electricity (Berinstein, 5). 1985 California had installed 398MW of wind capacity. At this point the U.S. had the most wind capacity installed, though by the mid 1990’s they were passed up by Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands, and India, despite installations in states other than California (Berinstein, 6). 1992 A tax incentive was implemented in the U.S. to encourage growth in wind power use. The incentive was extended through 2001 for the amount of energy actually produced. Even with this incentive wind only accounted for less than 0.5% of renewable energy in the U.S., but is growing faster than any renewable energy type (Berinstein, 7). Wind Power History Continued… :  Wind Power History Continued… 1997 The average wind turbine was about 60 meters tall and produced enough electricity to power 200-300 average homes. This is the equivalent of about 600-750 kW (O’Dell, np). Currently The turbines employed today are “almost as tall as the statue of liberty (93 m), with rotor diameters larger than the wingspan of a jumbo jet (64 m), and they produce enough electricity to power more than 500 homes (O’Dell, np).” The majority of wind turbines are used in areas with an average annual wind speed of 8-9 mph, and at a height of 50m. These are ideal conditions, but not all locations have these characteristics. For those areas not fitting this description, low wind speed technologies are being developed (O’Dell, np). Types of Turbines:  Types of Turbines Vertical Darreius Turbines-This turbine looks a lot like an egg beater, and has vertical blades that rotate into and out of the wind. The turbines are capable of capturing more energy than drag devices because of the aerodynamic lift. Variants of this device are the Giromill and cycloturbine (Wind Energy, np). Savonius Turbines-This turbine was invented in Finland. When viewed from above it appears as an S-shape. This is a drag type turbine, and turns fairly slow. It is not ideal for generating electricity, but works well for grain grinding, or water pumping (Wind Energy, np). Horiztonal Most commonly used today, these turbines consist of a tall tower with a rotor on top which faces the wind, the generator, and the controller. The most common horizontal axis turbines today have two or three blades, though there are many variations (Wind Energy, np). Types of Turbines:  Types of Turbines http://www.awea.org/images/wtconfig.gif Basic Working Diagram:  Basic Working Diagram http://www.eere.energy.gov/windandhydro/images/illust_techdrawing.gif Future of Wind Technologies:  Future of Wind Technologies Research and Development (R&D) Multi-variable speed turbines Low wind Speed turbines Low friction, Low maintenance turbines Offshore turbines Off Shore Turbines:  Off Shore Turbines http://www.ecoworld.org/articles/images/UKWind_Wind%20Turbines%20in%20Water%20(Sandia%20US%20Gov).jpg The UK is leading the way in off shore wind turbine development. Wind Power is on the Upswing!:  Wind Power is on the Upswing! In 2003 businesses around the world invested $9 billion in wind technologies (O’Dell, np). The director of the National Wind Technology Center, Robert Thresher, said that “With the current fuel prices, wind is the most cost effective energy source out there, and it’s a clean, domestic, renewable resource that can wean the United States from its dependence on foreign fuel sources. There is enough wind energy resources on and offshore to more than meet the electrical energy needs of the country (O’Dell, np).” Interesting Factoid::  Interesting Factoid: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, theoretically the world’s winds could supply more than 15 times the world’s current energy demand (approximately 5,800 BTU’s). That 5,800 quadrillion BTU’s is equivalent to 997.6 billion barrels of oil, or 261 billion tons of coal (AWEA, np). In the U.S., the AWEA has proposed that North Dakota, South Dakota, and Texas generate enough energy alone to power the entire country (Berinstein, 99). Ideal Conditions for Wind Energy:  Ideal Conditions for Wind Energy Stand Alone Systems (Systems Not Connected to the Grid) The residence is within an area which receives average annual wind speeds of 9 mph Connecting to the grid is too costly or unavailable The consumer seeks energy independence A strong interest in reducing environmental impact exists The user knows that since wind is intermittent they may need an alternative power source NOTE: Since wind is an intermittent source, some off grid users may find it extremely beneficial to purchase a hybrid systems which couples wind turbines with photovoltaic technology. This would allow users to generate electricity during times when the wind is not efficient, and during peak summer hours (EEE, np). Ideal Conditions for Wind Power:  Ideal Conditions for Wind Power Grid Connected Applications Persons who live in an area with average wind speeds of 10 mph Supplied utility power is expensive The expenses of connecting the turbine to the grid are not outrageously expensive Wind turbines are allowed on the property For persons not worried about making a long-term investment Pros of Wind Energy:  Pros of Wind Energy Abundant Resource An estimated 60% of the nation has enough wind resources to make small turbines a good option. This is especially emphasized for the 24% of populations still living in rural areas. Even small contributions contribute to reducing our emissions and our dependence on foreign oil (O’Dell, np). Requires Little Water The only water required is used for cleaning the blades Produces No Emissions or Pollution Doesn’t Have Anymore Toxic or Hazardous Substances Than Any Other Large Machine Doesn’t Pose a Threat to the Safety of the Public One of the Shortest Energy Payback Periods In just a typically a few months the turbine has generated the amount of energy required to fabricate, install, operate, and retire, the turbine (AWEA, np). Pros of Wind Energy Continued… :  Pros of Wind Energy Continued… Can Be Used on Lands Already Being Used for Things Such as Farming Wind power generation systems can be applied to lands used for other uses such as farming, since it does not require the land under the turbines, which sets it apart from large generating stations. Wind turbines only require 5-10% of the wind farms area for operation (Berinstein, 101). It can ideally bring added income to farming areas through offsetting electricity charges, increasing land value, and doesn’t interfere with faming operations (UCS, np). Wind power plant owners can pay the farmers rent for the use of the land, substantially contributing to the farmers income (“Advantages and Disadvantages…,” np). One of the Lowest Priced Energies Wind power costs between 4 and 6 cents per kilowatt-hour, depending on financing and environmental variables (Advantages and Disadvantages…,” np). Cons of Wind Energy:  Cons of Wind Energy Cost The initial cost of a wind system can be detouring for private consumers, but wind turbines can be competitive with conventional energy sources when you account for a lifetime of reduced, and possibly avoided utility costs (“Wind and Energy FAQ’s …,” np). Location and Need Not in the Same Place Unfortunately, good wind sites tend to be located in rural areas, further away from the dense centers which need the electricity, making transmission more costly (“Advantages and Disadvantages…,” np). Viewed as Unsightly and Noisy Some residents in populated areas put up resistance to wind turbines being installed because they view them as noisy, or unsightly (UCS, np). Cons of Wind Power:  Cons of Wind Power Bird Worries There is also an issue with wind turbines causing the death of a number of birds, including endangered golden eagles (UCS, np). Intermittent Source Since, similar to photovoltaic technologies, wind is an intermittent power source. It is most advantageous when coupled with other renewable energy sources. A renewable source not dependant on weather that can be most advantageous for areas needing additional energy (Wind Energy FAQs…, np). Biomass:  Biomass http://www.greenenergycentre.org.uk/images/biomasspic.jpg Biomass, also termed biopower, is just a fancy way to say ‘the use of organic matter as a fuel source.’ Bioenergy includes wood, agricultural crops, crop residues, industrial and municipal organic waste, and food waste, as well as animal waste (MTC, np). Slide58:  http://www.ncl.ac.uk/pim/biomass.jpg Biomass History:  Biomass History Beginning of Human Existence Since the beginning of humans, dung, wood, plants, and human excrement have been burned as fuel for cooking, light and heat (“Benefits and Barriers…,” np). 1860’s Wood was the primary energy source for cooking and heating in homes, as well as for steam production on boats, trains and in industry (EIA, np). 1890’s Steam generation switched from using primarily wood to using coal some time in the 1890’s (EIA, np). 1900’s Ironically, ethanol was competing with gasoline to be the fuel for cars (EIA, np). 1910- Although coal was making headway, most homes were still heated with wood (EIA, np). 1930’s Only urban areas had buildings heated by coal in the 1930’s, for all other areas wood was still the primary fuel (EIA,np). Biomass History Continued… :  Biomass History Continued… 1939 1939 was the first year that the U.S. burned more coal than wood (Berinstein, 5). 1950’s By the 1950’s electricity and natural gas had surpassed coal for heating most buildings (EIA, np). 1974 In 1974, due to high energy costs, many Americans switched back to heating their homes with wood stoves (EIA, np). Industry responded to the high energy prices by using wood, and wood waste product for fuel, as well as using wood 1984 The first wood-fired electricity plant was built by Burlington Electric in Vermont (EIA, np). 1990 190 biomass-fired electricity generating plants, of which 184 were non-utility generators, mostly wood and paper (EIA, np). 1996 Biomass gasification tests operations successful, hot gas cleanup was identified as a vital part in spreading adoption of biomass technology (EIA, np). In 1996 the first fuel cell to run on renewable fuel, converting landfill methane to electricity, was dedicated (Berinstein, 8). Biomass History Continued.. :  Biomass History Continued.. 1997 A year after the fuel cell breakthrough, biomass accounted for 38% of the renewable energy used in the U.S. (Berinstein, 8). Today Developing countries still rely heavily on biopower, especially wood (MTC, np). Biomass Processes:  Biomass Processes Biomass Gasification Biomass is heated in a gasifier to temperatures between 600-800°C. These temperatures convert the solid biomass into a gas composed mainly of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, water vapor, and methane. This gas can then be used as a fuel for applications which include gas electricity-generating turbines. Gasifiers emit less pollution than other systems that burn biomass, and are more efficient requiring less raw material. This is a new technology, not in common use (MTC, np). http://www.ncl.ac.uk/pim/biomass.jpg Biomass Processes:  Biomass Processes Landfill Gas Landfill gas however has been employed for decades. Landfill gas is a byproduct of the decaying process that organic matter goes though under anaerobic conditions. The resulting gas is around 50% methane, and can be used in applications similar to natural gas, which is 90% methane (“Benefits and Barriers…,” np). Landfill gas, once a collection system is in place, can produce a steady flow of fuel to power gas applications such as turbines for electricity (“Benefits and Barriers…,” np). Since there is always decaying matter in landfills, this is an abundant source of energy which can be used, instead of wasting those gases. Several landfill gas facilities exist, and many landfills are being encouraged to adapt their systems to accommodate energy reclamation by either methane or steam reclamation systems. http://www.puco.ohio.gov/emplibrary/files/util/biomass/projects/Landfill.jpg Biomass Processes:  Biomass Processes Direct-firing or Direct combustion This process oxidizes biomass fuel. The gas which results is hot, and produces steam when run though a heat exchanger in a boiler. Plants such as these operate like fossil fuel or nuclear plants when used commercially. Certain types of biomass foul the heat transfer surfaces needed to keep a plant such as this operational, which makes these plants less efficient even though the technology is mature (Berinstein, 87). Pyrolysis Pyrolysis converts biomass into solids (char), liquids (oils and methanol), and gases (methane, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide) through a thermochemical process which makes all of these forms burnable to create energy (Berinstein, 87). Liquefaction Liquefaction also uses a thermochemical process to transform the products of gasification, or pyrolysis, to liquid fuels using catalytic reactions (Berinstein, 88). NOTE: Pyrolysis and Liquefaction processes are not yet refined enough for commercialization. Biomass Potential:  Biomass Potential http://bioenergy.ornl.gov/papers/misc/images/resourcespotential_availabl.gif Pros of Biomass:  Pros of Biomass Lower Emissions than Fossil Fuels Although these fuels are not emission free when burned, they do have considerably less pollution than fossil fuels, and generally are waste products (Berinstein, 86). Burning wood releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, but not more than was absorbed by the tree while it was living (MTC, np). An Abundance of Energy Waste contains an abundance of energy, and is more economical to burn than to dispose of. Some of this waste is generated by consumers, and some by industry. Useful industrial waste products are black liquor (the waste produced when wood is chemically pulped), bark, chipped wood, logging left-overs, and agricultural wastes (Berinstein, 87). R&D Making Headway Some research and developments in biodeisel (fuel made from biological sources as described above) are underway and making news, such as the buses which can run on old French fry grease. Pros of Biomass Continued… :  Pros of Biomass Continued… Landfills Landfills can be an abundant source of energy because of the methane produced (Berinstein, 87). Additional Research Some research is underway to develop fast growing trees and plants to be cultivated for energy production, since standing trees are not a beneficial option. Lastly energy crops are those which can be refined into oil to replace diesel and fuel (“Benefits and Barriers…,” np). Cons of Biomass:  Cons of Biomass Produces More Emissions than “Green Energy” Steeling from Peter to Pay Paul Although biomass produces less carbon dioxide, it still produces methane which is a stronger gas (Berinstein, 91). Harmful Waste Products When municipal waste is combusted it can produce toxic metals, chlorinated compounds, and plastics which are all harmful (Berinstein, 91). VOC’s Produced Thermochemical processes can produce volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) and carbon monoxide, even though it can be controlled (Berinstein, 91). Hazardous Wastes Pyrolisis and liquefaction, can create hazardous wastes (Berinstein, 91) Cons of Biomass Continued… :  Cons of Biomass Continued… In order for liquefaction and pyrolysis to be used commercially, a way to remove noxious compounds from the gas must be discovered, and large plants would need to be constructed (Berinstein, 88). Energy crops generally reduce water pollution, and are needed for refueling the land with vital nutrients (Berinstein, 91). By raping soils of their nutrients if there is not enough waste left behind, we could potentially destroy habitats. Biomass could only be reasonable used as a transitional energy while converting from fossil fuels to greener energies. THE MORALS OF THE STORY:  THE MORALS OF THE STORY There is no miracle solution There is no one energy which is going to save the world from global warming. Collaborative Effort It is going to take the employment of multiple green energy efforts to create a sustainable grid. Return to Our Throne Countries like Japan and Germany are leading the way on the renewable energy frontier, but at one time the United States was in the lead, and it would not take a miracle to put us back in the running. It is going to take government policy, personal interest, and a serious look into the grim future of continuing on the same path, to get the ball rolling faster on renewable energy. Initially it will cost everyone more, but the more we use it, the cheaper it will get. Examining the options of continuing to be dependant on other countries, a small investment in our energy independent future seems miniscule in comparison. Resources:  Resources “Advantages and Disadvantages of Wind Energy.” Wind & Hydropower Technologies Program. U.S. Department of Energy: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. 04 April, 2005. http://www.eere.energy.gov/windandhydro/wind_ad.html “Bendable Organic Solar Cells.” Personal Power. 24 December 2004. Live Science. 05 April 2005. http://www.livescience.com/technology/ 041224_solar_panels.html “Benefits and Barriers for Photovoltaics.” Where Benifits and Barriers for Photovoltaics: Energy Information. Massechusetts Technology Collaborative. 1996-2004. MTPC. 05 April, 2005. http://www.mtpc.org/cleanenergy/solar_info/benefit.htm Berinstein, Paula. Alternative Energy: Facts, Statistics, and Issues. Westport,CT: Ornyx, 2001. “Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy.” Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE). Febuary 2005. Accessed March 2005. http://www.dsireusa.org/summarytables/financial.cfm?&CurrentPageID=7 Dupont, Henry. “Harnessing Wind, Solar and Micro Hydro Power Makes Living in Remote Locations Possible.” The Wonderful World of Renewable Energy. 1996. Offshore Services. 04 April, 2005. http://www.wind-power.com Herig, Christy. “The Role and Value of Utilities in Promoting PV.” 2001. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. National Center for Photovoltaics. Golden, CO: 3pgs. “History.” Solar Power History and Solar Power Examples. Fuel From the Sun www.fuelfromthesun.com “History of Hydropower.” Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program. U.S. Department of Energy: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. 03/02/2004. U.S Department of Energy. 05 April, 2005. http://www.eere.energy.gov/windandhydro/hydro_history.html “History of Wind Energy.” Wind & Hydropower Technologies Program. U.S. Department of Energy: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. 04 April, 2005. http://www.eere.energy.gov/windandhyro/wind_history.html Resources Continued… :  Resources Continued… “Hydropower Research and Development.” Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program. U.S. Department of Energy: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. 12/27/2004. U.S Department of Energy. 05 April, 2005. http://www.eere.energy.gov/windandhydro/hydro_rd.html “Hydropower Resource Potential.” Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program. U.S. Department of Energy: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. 10/23/2003. U.S Department of Energy. 05 April, 2005. http://www.eere.energy.gov/windandhydro/hydro_potential.html McDonough, William. Braungart, Michael. Cradle to Cradle. New York: North Point Press, 2002. “Million Solar Roofs.” Million Solar Roofs. U.S. Department of Energy. 03/24/2005. DOE. 05 April, 2005. http://www.millionsolarroofs.org/ “Net Metering Policies.” Green Power Network. U.S. Department of Energy: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. 12/27/2004. U.S. Department of Energy. 05 April, 2005. http://www.eere.energy.gov/greenpowe/markets/netmetering.shtml O’Dell, Kathy. “NREL-Keeping Up With the Rapidly Growing Wind Industry.” National Renewable Energy Laboratory. December 2004. NREL. 04 April, 2005. http://www.nrel.gov/features/ “Official Energy Statistics from the U.S. Government.” Energy Administration Information. Last modified on 03/30/2005. Department of Energy. 10 March, 2004. http://www.eia.doe.gov/neic/historic/hrenew.htm “Saving Money with BP Solar Energy Solution.” BP Solar North America FAQ. 1999-2005. BP. www.bp.com/faq.do “Solar Energy.” MEA-Energy Sources-Renewable-Solar Energy. Maryland Energy Administration. 2005. MEA. 05 March, 2005. http://www.energy.state.md.us/energysources/renewable/solar.html Solar Energies Industries Association. “Our Solar Power Future: The U.S. Photovoltaics Industry Roadmap through 2030 and Beyond.” 15pgs. SEIA. September 2004. “The Tutorial of Wind Energy.” Wind Energy...Clean Energy for Our Environment and Economy. American Wind Energy Association. 2004. American Wind Energy Association. 10 March, 2004. http://www.awea.org/faq/tutorial/wwt_potential.html Van Der Ryn, Sim. Cowan, Stweart. Ecological Design. Washington D.C.: Island Press, 1996. “Wind Energy FAQ’s for Consumers.” Wind & Hydropower Technologies Program. U.S. Department of Energy: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. 04 April, 2005. http://www.eere.energy.gov/windandhyro/wind_consumer_faqs.html

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