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.

Google to invest in south african solar power plant

Investment in solar energy is continuing in South Africa with the announcement on Thursday the 30th of may 2013 of Google’s $12m investment in the Northern Cape’s 96MW solar photovoltaic Jasper Power Plant.

Eskom the national power producer could see the first power procured from the first round of the independent power producer procurement programme by year-end. Many of the projects coming of the ground from the 18 preferred bidders in the first window of the Department of Energy’s renewable energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (IPP) programme already at build phase.

Independent Power Producers.

The first group IPP bid winners will generate a total of 631MW of electricity from solar power parks ranging in capacity from a small 5MW to larger plants. South Africa’s power supply is urgently in need of extra capacity as it has been running on a thin reserves since about 2008. In 2008 demand outstripped supply, causing a range of blackouts that damaged the economy to the tune of R50bn.

The Jasper project was developed and funded by US-based SolarReserve and South African companies Intikon Energy and the Kensani Group, as well as the Public Investment Corporation, the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the PEACE Humansrus Trust.

When completed, Jasper would be one of the largest solar installations in Africa, capable of generating enough electricity to power 30,000 South African homes, Google said in a statement.

The consortium is expecting to bid for an additional 1,500MW of solar photovoltaic projects in subsequent bid rounds.

At the start of this the week, South African Minister of Energy Dipuo Peters launched another of the projects from the first window of the IPP programme. The development of the RustMo1 Solar Power Plant is the first solar energy park in North West and the first renewable energy project that will supply power to the Eskom grid and produce 250,000MW of energy over the next 20 years.

This 7MW solar photovoltaic power plant was awarded to Momentous Energy, a local black-owned development company. The project includes the installation of 11 inverters and 29,808 photovoltaic solar modules, with a step-up transformer to connect to the 88kV substation.

South Africa is in dire need of more energy after 10 years of Eskom’s pleas for investment in generation capacity being ignored. Solar Power will become a major part of South Africa’s energy needs.

The investment in solar power is not only good for South Africa’s energy requirements it should add to highly needed employment as well.

Grid Tied Solar Power Systems

Grid tied solar power systems are the most common installed systems for companies and households who have access to the national electricity grid. But what is a grid tied solar power system and what are its advantages and disadvantage?

What is a grid tied solar power system.

In layman’s term a grid tied solar power system is a solar powered system which is connected to national power grid. While the sun is shining the photovoltaic solar panels convert the sun’s rays into electricity. Electricity generated by the system can be used for your home and business. Any excess power requirements which your solar panels can not supply will be taken from the national power grid. When the power grid is running properly, your home or business will use power generated from your solar panels and/or pull electricity from the grid. If at any time you generate more electricity from your solar panels as your current power requirements this excess power will feed back into the national power grid. This excess power fed back into the national power grid can give you credit’s on your electricity bill.

Advantages of a grid tied solar power system.

The main advantage of a grid tied solar power system is that you can start small and gradually add on to the system depending on your power requirements and budget. Your power requirements should always be met. If you don’t generate enough energy through solar the national electricity grid will supply the extra power requirements. Excess power for example on weekends when a business generally requires less electricity can be fed back into the national grid. With A grid tied system you can start reducing your electricity bill with a relative low investment.

Disadvantages of a grid tied solar power system

The disadvantage of a grid tied solar system is it only works during the day when the sun is shining and when the national power grid is fully functional. If during the day the national electricity grid fails due to for example load shedding your grid tied solar power system will switch of automatically as well. All grid tied systems will switch off during a power outage because these systems are required by law to feature an automatic shut-off mechanism. These requirements are in place to protect workers working on the power grid during a power outage. This is known as an Anti-Islanding requirement.

So in short the system will not save energy during the night as you will be fully depending on your national power grid and they will not provide electricity during blackouts and load shedding.


A grid tied solar power system will save money but you will always be depending on the national power grid for your electricity needs.

Solar Power Systems

Solar power systems create free energy from the Sun. Solar power system are using the sun to the process light or heat into an energy source.
It is becoming a reliable renewable energy alternative to regular power sources like coal powered electricity in urban areas. Solar Power systems are even been used in outer space to power satellites and even the international space station. Solar power system as renewable energy sources are used in homes for lighting, electricity generation and water heating. Renewable energy like solar power is becoming even more popular as the cost of fossil fuel continue to rise. Solar panels both thermal and photovoltaic are designed to collect the free energy from the sun.

Different applications of solar power.

Once the solar energy is collected by the solar panels installed the solar power has to be converted into energy either electrical or heat. Solar thermal application processes involve using the energy from the sun to directly heat air or liquids. The process of photoelectric application involves the use of photovoltaic cells to change the energy into electricity.

Solar power challenges.

Solar power poses no harm to the environment. There is an abundance of solar power available. one hour of sunlight beams enough energy to planet earth to satisfy our energy needs for a year. Even though so much free renewable energy reaches earth every hour of the day less than one tenth of one percent of global energy demand is sourced through solar power. Why are we using so little of this freely available solar power ?

  • Cost is currently the main factor. Technology to produce electricity from the sun is still more expensive as burning fossil fuels
  • Storage of solar power. Solar power does not work at night, so energy captured during the day still has no efficient and cost effective way of being stored.

Even though solar power has its challenges it is still a very good choice going forward. Solar thermal energy for hot showers and baths is already proven very cost effective and is growing in popularity. Once the initial investment in solar thermal power is made the solar power is free and reduces your fossil powered energy by about 30%.

Solar power is also very economical to use in remote areas where it is expensive to provide common fossil powered electricity. Your off grid systems with battery backup prove to be very successful in those areas.

Solar Panels

Solar Panels can be divided into two different types. You have the Photovoltaic Solar Panels and then you have your Solar thermal collector. Both use the energy from the sun and convert it to power or hot water.

Photovoltaic solar panels & solar thermal collectors can be used independently of each other or in combination. They both serve a different purpose.

Photovoltaic solar panels.

Photovoltaic solar panels collect light from the sun and converts this light into usable electricity. These solar panels can be connected to a battery system to store electricity for use when the sun is not shining. You can have grid tied systems which means you are still connected to the main electricity grid. Off grid systems are stand alone systems where one is not connected to the main electricity grid to have uninterrupted power a battery backup system is required.

Solar thermal collectors.

Solar thermal collectors convert the solar energy received from the sun into hot water or hot air. These solar panels are commonly used in South Africa for heating pools, heating water for use in showers and baths. Considering hot water requirements for a modern household are a major contributor to electricity bills. Investing in solar thermal collectors is a worthwhile investment which should pay for itself. They are also a great solution for the many areas in South Africa which have not been electrified. It will provide cheap hot water for our daily needs.

Solar thermal collectors are more commonly installed than Photovoltaic solar panels due to the technology being simpler and more affordable. If electricity keep rising then we might see more installations of photovoltaic solar panels.

Solar Panels

Solar Panels