Renewable energy sources (RES) include the sun and the wind. Harnessing energy from water currents, tides, and waves also count as forms of renewable energy. In contrast, the traditional energy sourcesÂ we rely on to generate power namely coal, oil, and natural gas areÂ non-renewable sources of power. Once these resources are sufficiently depletedÂ they become too expensive
Renewable energy sources (RES) include the sun and the wind. Harnessing energy from water currents, tides, and waves also count as forms of renewable energy.
In contrast, the traditional energy sourcesÂ we rely on to generate power namely coal, oil, and natural gas areÂ non-renewable sources of power. Once these resources are sufficiently depletedÂ they become too expensive to retrieve.
Not all renewable energy sources come devoidÂ of consequences, think about the issues surrounding hydroelectric dams inÂ Bosnia & Herzegovina.Â Solar powerÂ has the distinct advantage ofÂ tapping energy from the sun without really impacting any other naturalÂ resource.
Passive Solar Design
If you are involved in constructing a newÂ home, consider ways to take full advantage of the sun â€“ termed “passive
solar design”. Homes that incorporate passive solar design can greatlyÂ augment the effects of a solar power system.
KeyÂ features to passive solar design include:
- PositioningÂ a home on an east-west axis and ensuring that the home’s south sideÂ receives its maximum amount of daylight.
- DesigningÂ interior spaces so that rooms used most frequently are along theÂ building’s south face.
- TakingÂ advantage of thermal mass spaces to absorb, store, and distribute heat.
- InstallingÂ overhangs, selecting windows, and adding insulation to maximize sun (andÂ shade).
- PlantingÂ trees and other vegetation strategically around your home to provideÂ natural shading and buffer from intense heat.
Net metering (or reverse metering)
The ability to record both power produced andÂ power used. Utility companies record the information, as they do for all homeÂ meters, and charge customers for the power they use as well as credit them forÂ any excess power they generate.
A common unit of electric power consumption.Â One kilowatt-hour equals 1000 watt-hours and can be used to define the amountÂ of energy used over a one-hour period. For example, a 60-watt incandescentÂ light bulb turned on for one hour would use 60 watt-hours of energy.
A side note:Â Interestingly,Â a 19-watt compact fluorescent bulb (CFL) packs the equivalent amount of outputÂ as a 60-watt incandescent, but saves 68% of the comparable energy. There areÂ two reasons for this: (1) 75% of the energy incandescent light bulbs use endsÂ up as heat, only 25% gives off light; (2) CFLs last 10 times longer than incandescentÂ light bulbs and save 45 KM or more in energy bills over their lifetime. Therefore,Â it is recommended to use CFL bulbs wherever possible to cool down the planetÂ too.
Photovoltaic cells are made of parallelÂ clusters of semiconductor materials such as silicon. Although silicon has been
by far the most frequently used material, primarily because of its abundanceÂ (it’s the second most plentiful element in the Earth’s crust), it takes a lotÂ of effort to produce a highly efficient PV cell and until recently the cost forÂ PV arrays prohibited most people from using it.
Today those costs have come down considerablyÂ and are further reduced by the plenitude of federal, state, and local taxÂ credits, rebates and other monetary incentives to make installing aÂ solarÂ energyÂ system a viable and cost effective energy alternative. The futureÂ looks brighter still as scientists continue to explore ways to create otherÂ non-silicon based photovoltaic panels with the hope of eventually producingÂ solar cells at about one-tenth the cost of silicon based products.