Two Alternative & Renewable Energy Sources

Wind Solar Energy

Two Alternative & Renewable Energy Sources

As the world consumes and produces more energy we must cut back our us fossil fuels, and begin using alternative energy to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels

Currently we have 4 sources of renewable and alternative energy that we are able to produce: wind generation, solar energy, hydro power, and geothermal energy. Here we will discuss the most common two.

Wind Power

Wind as a source of power has been around for ages. Previous generations used wind in many different ways like, pump water, sailing ships, flour mils, saw mills and more. but at the start of the industrial and economic revolution, wind mills have improved and wind turbines were developed to supply electricity.

Lots of us learned about the old windmills in The Netherlands which were used to pump water or mill grain. The technology has improved developed hugely since the past decade. In this day and age wind turbines manage to generate thousands of megawatts of power, and once used on small scale projects, wind generation to create power will substitute standard energy sources, contributing to many households to get off the grid.

Solar Energy

Solar is the one of the most abundant form of energy available, we really should harness this great energy resource. We can use it on a large scale or a small scale. Technology is constantly improving and becoming more affordable. Households have many choices in regards Solar Energy. It can generate electricity, heat, be used for cooking etc.

Both electricity and heating systems powered by the sun are cost-effective, great for the environment and planet. Solar Installations require hardly any maintenance and after the initial investment have no running cost saving you on bills. Solar cookers are a great way of cooking food. They are affordable, portable and easy to use. It is a great solution used in many African countries where one has no power available.

Sustainable Energy Sources Compared

Sustainable Energy does not always equal to Renewable Energy, but Renewable Energy is a Sustainable Energy Source.

What are the different forms of sustainable energy and how do they compare? Sustainable Energy is a good alternative to fossil available today. New sources of Sustainable Energy Sources are being developed for the future. How reliable are the different forms of Sustainable Energy Resources and will they be sustainable in the future to form part of the energy mix? Below we will discus the different forms of Sustainable Energy and their advantages.

Solar Power

Solar power is generated through photo voltaic (PV) solar panels. Solar panels convert the sunlight into electricity. It is a viable solution in many countries and Solar Power systems are currently installed in many countries. New technology makes the the solar panels more effective than older systems. Currently about 16% of the sunlight gets converted into electricity. With new developments this should greatly improve and they will become more affordable. The improvement in efficiency and lowered costs means that solar power will play a greater part in our energy mix. There are alos some interesting installations where Solar Power is installed on top of parking bays. Not only creates this energy, but it keeps the cars parked underneat protected from heat and other elements.

Solar Heating

Solar Heating is the conversion of sunlight into renewable energy for water heating using a solar thermal collector, or used to cook food with a solar oven. Solar heating is a cost effective method to save electricity. When you invest in Solar Heating you will use less electricity and you can get away with a smaller Solar Power (PV) System. Solar heating can also be used to heat up pools.

A solar oven uses the power of the sun to cook food. By directing the sunlight into a solar oven you can raise the temperature of a box (Solar Oven) in order to make the temperature high enough to cook food. This is very sustainable solution in areas where there is little access to other energy resources like in many parts of Africa.

Solar Tubes & Skylights

Many houses have areas like passages which have not enough windows and tend to be dark. Instead of switching on a light why not install skylight or Solar tube to bring natural daylight into your dark room or passage. Some Solar Tubes have a natural ventilation system installed as well, which is great for areas like a bathroom with no windows.

As you can see there are many ways we can harness the energy of the sun.

Wind Power

Wind power has been harnessed for centurions, in the form of commercial shipping, windmills to mill grain and pump water. Nowadays wind power is being used to generate electricity through wind turbines and to pump water with wind pumps. Wind energy is one of the fastest growing sources of electricity in the world and it’s not hard to see why. Wind energy does not pollute or contaminate the surrounding area on which they are built. One wind turbine is capable of generating power for over 500 households. The only environmental impact is the dead of birds caught in a wind turbine and the visual pollution.

Hydro power

Hydro power is energy that is generated by the movement of water. Energy gets generated through water falling or flowing down a river and channeling it through a turbine.

Flowing water was used in ancient water mills to power various machines, from saws to cranes, mills, lifts and more.

Most hydro power requires the building of Dams & Reservoirs they can have an adverse affect on the environment and displace many people. A lot of research into the environmental impact has to happen before one can go ahead and built a dam.

One lesser know Hydro Power source is energy produced from the movement of ocean waters, through tidal, waves and others. This is often refereed to as marine power.

Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy is generated by using or drilling into the thermal energy or heat generated at the Earth’s core. This energy can easily be harvested at tectonic plates and by drilling deep into the ground, then pumping in a heat transfer fluid such as water or steam.

Some countries using geothermal energy are New Zealand, Iceland, China, Japan, United States, Italy, Turkey, France & China.

Recycle and Save Energy

I recently got asked does recycling save energy? After researching the subject I came to the conclusion that recycling can substantial reduce the amount of energy we use amongst other benefits.

Why does recycling save energy?

Extracting and Refining Natural resources like Iron ore, Bauxite etc is labour intensive and requires lots of energy in the form of extracting, transporting and refining. Through the use of recycled material, many of the processes can be eliminated and gives a jump start in the production of the same or similar products.

Aluminium is a good example, the extraction of aluminium from bauxite has huge energy requirements. Aluminium can’s don’t have to go through the same process.

How much energy can be saved through recycling?

How much energy can be saved through recycling depends on the material being recycled, and how often it can be recycled. Certain materials like aluminium, glass and iron can be recycled over and over again. Plastics normally have been downgraded to lower quality plastic products as they degraded every time they got recycled, but technical improvements now enables manufacturers to create new high quality plastic products.

Aluminium

Recycling aluminium is the best example of saving energy. With the amount of energy used to make one aluminium can from scratch (starting with the mining of bauxite) 20 recycled aluminum can’s can be produced. So next time when you toss that aluminium can think twice and recycle.

Glass

Recycling glass does save substantial amounts of energy. If you want to find out more use the calculator found on the website of The Glass Recycling Company.

If you recycle 5 glass containers a week, you can power for example a computer for over 3 days. Now imagine this saving if everyone recycles there glass containers/bottles.

More energy can be saved by reusing bottles through a deposit system. Initially they will be more expensive to produce (they tend to be thicker and heavier so they will require more glass and higher transport cost, but in the long run they should save energy.

Paper

Creating new paper from recycled paper can save up to 60% percent of energy. Although through contamination (ink etc) it is difficult or impossible to make high quality bright white paper. Often recycles paper is downgraded to carton or newspapers.

Other benefits of recycling.

Besides the saving of energy, recycling has other benefits as well. We need less natural resources, produce less pollution and the recycled product will be cheaper.

Cutting Down On Energy Usage

Cutting down on energy usage is one of the best and economical action we can take. You can cut down on energy through insulating your home or purchasing energy efficiency appliances. decreasing our energy needs, not only saves costs, but minimizes the environmental impact.

Although the usage and generation of cleaner and renewable energy is growing, reducing power usage is still the first en most economical choice.

By saving energy, we are not only saving money, but we also reduce our dependence on fossil fuels like natural gas, oil and coal. The reduction of fossil fuels means lesser emissions greenhouse gasses, one of the major factors of global warming.

Energy saving ideas at home

Energy saving should start at home, one of the benefits is lower utility bills. Making your house more energy efficient not only saves money, but can improve the comfort of your living environment as well.

Some ways to reduce energy requirements are, insulation of your roof, walls and geyser can drastically reduce the energy consumption of heating and cooling your home.

Also consider replacing your old inefficient appliances for appliances with an A or B rating according to the South African Rating Standard. The South African Energy efficiency rating is measured from A to G with A being the most energy efficient.

Money saved due to energy saving can be utilized by investing in renewable energy sources.

Non renewable energy sources.

We have written a lot about renewable energy sources, but the world is still mainly powered by non renewable energy sources. The first problem with non renewable energy sources are not only that once they are depleted they are no more (although proven reserves of non renewable energy sources indicates that there is still more of it then the world can consume for a very long time, hence the current oversupply of oil.).

The second problem is that although there are plenty of known reserves some of them are costly to access, which can turn into a positive if renewable energy becomes cheaper as non renewable energy.

The third problem is environmental, the extraction of fossil fuels can damage the surrounding environment including, water pollution and extraction of water. When burning fossil fuels it can have an affect on the health of nearby populations and it is a major contributor to global warming. The main disadvantage for nuclear fuel is radio active waste, which needs to be managed very well. A major incident with a nuclear reactor can have negative effects for a wide area.

The economic cost of non renewable energy, might not be around currently, but future generations might suffer the consequences.

Some non renewable energy sources are

  • Coal
  • Oil
  • Natural Gas
  • Uranium, used for nuclear energy

Surprisingly a lot of people consider wood a non renewable resource, but most plantations are managed well and are replenished at a sufficient rate so that it is considered as a renewable and sustainable source of energy.

Heatwave and cooling down.

South Africa is currently in the grip of a heatwave & drought with temperatures well above average. During this heatwave many people are looking to cool down. There are many options and some more affordable / permanent options. Air conditioners are an effective way to cool down you living environment, but they are costly to run consuming electricity. If your house is powered by renewable energy you might not even have enough generating capacity.

Lucky there are more energy efficient solutions to cool down your house and person.

Some tips to survive the heatwave.

Some investments you can make which are cost effective and long term.

  • Insulation, not only will this keep your house cooler in summer but keep you warmer in winter as well.
  • Start growing some trees which will shade parts of your roof.
  • If your roof is of a dark color, consider painting it in a lighter color. The darker the color the more heat is retained. Some newly developed paints have insulating factors as well.
  • A lot of heat gets in through windows, why not install a tint, many cars have this which keeps them cooler and it is a safety feature as well.

Some tips which will help cooling you down right now cost effectively

  • Open windows/doors early in the mornings to let cool air in. Leave them open during the day to generate a draft, to avoid heat build up.
  • Invest in some fans to create a breeze, this will help cool you down as well. Some of them even operate with water/ice to create evaporation cooling. The added advantage is that it will humidify your living environment as well.
  • Stay out of the sun and look for shady areas
  • And last but not least. If you have a pool why not take a swim so once in a while. It will refresh you nicely.

This current heatwave is partly caused by El Niño a weather pattern associated with a band of warm ocean water that develops in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific. It affects the climate worldwide. One other reason is global warming triggered by the burning of fossil fuels. Conserving energy and making use of Renewable Energy will help to keep our earth cooler and more comfortable to live in.

Hope some of these tips will help you survive the heatwave. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water as it is easy to become dehydrated.

How to save energy

Saving energy and reducing fuel consumption has many benefits. Not only does reduced energy and fuel consumption save you money, it also saves valuable resources which can be depleted. Another advantage of saving energy is less impact on the environment and preserving valuable resources.

Reduce electricity consumption with these easy tips

  • Buy Energy Star qualified appliances, or A or B rated appliances and lights. These are the low energy using appliances.
  • Improve the insulation of your property, to make it cooler in summer and keep it warmer in winter. Les heating and cooling will be required which saves electricity
  • Turn off appliances and gadgets that are in stand by state.
  • Set air conditioner’s at a slightly higher temperature in summer and during the winter slightly lower. It will make a difference to your electricity bill
  • Use air conditioner only in the rooms occupied.
  • Use a fan instead of air conditioner, they sometimes give effective cooling for a lower electricity consumption.
  • Avoid opening the fridge door as much as possible
  • Turn off the light when you leave the room.
  • Decrease washing machine water temperature and use a shorter cycle, for most laundry it will still come out clean and fresh
  • Fill the washing machine / dryer / dishwasher before operation. Avoid small loads
  • Use energy saving features in the computer’s operating system control panel.
  • Hang the laundry to dry instead of using the dryer. In most places the laundry will dry quickly.
  • Install solar water heater system.
  • Reduce the water temperature of your geyser

Reduce fuel consumption with these easy tips.

  • When buying another car consider a smaller car with low fuel consumption
  • Avoid high acceleration / deceleration driving.
  • Avoid driving with high motor RPM. Switch gears to a higher one asap.
  • Don’t drive with unnecessary luggage or other items to reduce weight.
  • Close the windows to reduce drag
  • Avoid driving during traffic jams.
  • Avoid unnecessary trips. Rather wal or take public transport.
  • Keep tires with optimal air pressure. This will save energy as well as extending the life of your tires.
  • Keep your car well maintained.
  • Plan your trips so you can minimize the distance or avoid driving through cities with lost of stop starts. Maintaining a steady speed on a highway is normally low on fuel consumption.
  • Don’t be in a rush, a lower speed will make sure you arrive alive, but at a lower fuel consumption. Rather leave earlier.
  • Even if one implements a couple of these you will notice the difference. Just changing your habits can save a lot of money.

Electricity & Petrol Price Increases

April is going to see a double whammy increase. Eskom will raise the tariffs for electricity & Petrol prices are going up due to levies & the increase of the international oil price. This is going to affect consumers and the economy hard. The time of an abundance of cheap electricity is over.

What can be done to counteract the price increases?

With the average salary increase below the increase of petrol & electricity price increases, there are few options left. Either accept a decrease in living standards or change your lifestyle. Before we go there lets see if with a change in habits one can save money.

Reduce your electricity consumption.

Some things one can do to reduce your electricity usage.

  • Lower the temperature of your geyser. A geyser is one of the main contributing factors to an households electricity consumption.
  • Switch of geysers not in use (Guest Bathroom’s etc).
  • Insulate your geysers and hot water pipes.
  • Take short showers instead of a bath.
  • Replace your shower head with a low-flow water saving one.
  • Replace old incandescent light bulbs with newer energy efficient CFL’s or LED lights.
  • Switch of lights, disconnect appliances & devices when not in use. Some appliances & devices still consume a lot of electricity while on standby.
  • Do your laundry on a slightly lower temperature setting.
  • Weather permitting hang your washing out instead of using a tumble dryer.
  • Making only one cup of tea or coffee ? Then only boil water for one cup of coffee.
  • Replacing appliances or devices, check for the energy rating.
  • Use a microwave instead of an oven.
  • Only use your dishwasher when fully packed.
  • In the winter close curtains to contain the heat.
  • Fix dripping taps (especially the how water ones).
  • Swimming pool pumps also consume a large amount of power. Try to reduce the hours it is running. In winter it can even run less as algae growth is reduced.

As one can see there are many ways to reduce your electricity usage, thereby reducing your impact on the environment. With lower energy use it also becomes more cost effective to install renewable energy.

Cut down on your petrol usage.

Petrol can take a large chunk out of your budget and for many people it is a necessity to have and use a car, but their are still ways how one can save a bit.

  • Plan your journey. Try to concentrate your shopping to a certain area and try to finish your shopping to avoid unnecessary trips back to the shops.
  • Try to join a lift club either for the daily school run or going to work and back. Not only will it save on petrol, but it also helps to reduce wear & tear.
  • Have shops within walking distance? Decide to walk to the shops for a few items instead of driving.
  • If you can avoid peak hour traffic with lots of stop/start. Stopping & starting all the time wastes lots of petrol.
  • Keep to the speed limit.
  • Anticipate traffic conditions & traffic lights. Don’t race to the next red traffic light.
  • When replacing your car, consider a more fuel efficient (smaller) car.
  • Keep your car well maintained.

Following these tips not only will save fuel & maintenance cost, but also contribute to a saver road.

Global Warming Explained

Global Warming a topic which has many scientists, politicians, celebrities, and everyday people talking. Opinion and controversy surrounding global warming can be poles apart and are sometimes very divided. In this article we would like to discuss some facts about global warming.

The most obvious about global warming is that the earth is getting warmer and warmer. More specific the temperatures near the surface of the earth and the temperatures in our oceans are rising rapidly. Since the 90s, there have been 10+ years that have been warmer than any others in recorded history.

What causes global warming.

The greenhouse effect is said to be the main culprit for global warming. The greenhouse effect causes certain vapors and gases to form a blanket/shield that covers and warms the earth. This shield is made up of water vapor, methane, carbon dioxide and a variety of other trace gases.

The greenhouse effect itself is not in discussion. No disputes or controversy exists on this point because the greenhouse effect is recognized as an normal beneficial process. If all the energy that reaches the earth was reflected right back into space, no life could have been possible on planet earth. The earth would be a cold and icy place without this blanket.

However, global warming is not all good. It can cause the earth’s covering to increase in density. With a denser blanket over the earth, less of the heat is reflected back into space. This upsets the delicate balance between heat and cold that is usually maintained on earth. It traps more heat inside the earth’s atmosphere.

Although there are scientists and politicians who argue against it, there seems to be a shift in the climate in recent years. Climate change to a warmer climate is the result of excessive global warming.
There has been an global rise in temperature of a little over one degree celsius during the last 100 years. The figure for the next 100 years century is expected to be more like seven degrees. It is this type of global warming that can lead to dire consequences if left unchecked.

Man made global warming

A lot of the global warming happening now is man made. People, their activities, and their industries have caused global warming to reach to the levels it has today. Burning fossil fuels, powering electrical plants with coal, and irresponsible land use can all contribute to global warming. Carbon dioxide is produced by these activities, and global warming is perpetuated.

Effects of global warming

Global warming is resulting in rising ocean levels and increased risk of flooding. There are more powerful storms. Heat waves are becoming more frequent and intense. Extended droughts could severely damage the world’s food crops and cause shortages of drinkable water. Extinction of species could become a problem because of changing habitats and the suitability of the climate for the animal.

What can be done about global warming

Global warming can probably not be reversed, but there are ways to slow the process down. Each person should take responsibility for doing their part in protecting the earth’s environment. With the will power of people,politicians and countries, the emissions of greenhouse gases can be cut drastically. This will give the earth a chance to regain its natural balance of temperature. Knowledge about global warming is one step towards a healthier planet. So start cutting back on fossil fuels and begin investing in renewable energy sources to cut down global warming.

Global Warming Explained

Earth Global Warming