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Alternative and Renewable Energy; the Way to Sustainability

14  Mar  2014

Alternative Energy

Humanity has reached an interesting point in its time on earth. Traditional power sources like fossil fuels have changed our environment for the worse. The pollution of our planet can be directly traced to the acquisition and use of these fuels. They have caused climate change and the extinction of many species of animal. Our culture has choices. There are renewable and Alternative Energy clean sources of energy that do not rely on burning fossil fuel. Two of these sources can also be used by homeowners to lower or eliminate electric costs.

Wind Power

Wind is a popular and easy to use power source for many parts of the world. It is also one of the oldest power sources we use. Windmills have turned mill stones and provided power to water pumps since at least 1 B.C.E.

Today wind power alternative energy use is up. Many countries have put large modern windmills up to produce renewable power. Many wind turbines are placed along sea coasts, at the crests of mountain ranges, and along the prairies. Basically, any area that has a sustained wind flow can support a series of power producing windmills. Wind power costs drop each time that installed capacity doubles. It is currently almost the same price as fossil fuel generated energy in many parts of the world.

A commercial enterprise requires large tracts of land to produce large amounts of power. But, windmills have a small ground footprint. They are a popular secondary income stream for many Western farmers. Many homeowners in windy areas like to put a small turbine or two up on their own property, too.

Solar Energy

Solar energy is by far the most popular and best renewable alternative energy source for most people. Solar panels can be bought pre-made or can be assembled yourself with just a little electrical knowledge and a soldering iron. A small household 1.5 kilowatt solar setup can keep as much as 110,000 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere over 25 years. It will replace 60,000 pounds of coal. It will produce no pollution, no acid rain and will provide power even on a cloudy day.

After the system is installed, it costs nothing more than the occasional cleaning of the cells. They are long-lived devices; most come with warranties over 25 years long. The systems are modular. This means that you can start with just a few panels on your home to offset your power bill. Later, you can add more panels to possibly even take your home off of the grid and supply your own power.

About Solar Panels

Solar panels are made up of a series of solar photovoltaic modules that have been wired together and carefully mounted onto a supporting structure. Each photovoltaic module contains a number of connected solar cells. Most of these modules are sealed to keep the insides safe. Each module has a rating that lists just how much energy it can produce under a standardized amount of sunlight. Modern solar modules produce from 100 to 320 watts of power at a time. A complete solar system will contain a series of solar panels, an inverter with a storage device like a battery.

Build Your Own Solar Panels

Many easy to follow directions can be found today that can guide anyone through the process of building a solar panel. Most people buy enough solar cells and supplies to make a single panel for their first project. The process is simple, fun, and will save you money in the end.

Basically, construct a shallow box out of wood. Using pegboard will make securing the cells easy. Trim a sheet of thin plexiglass to layer over the cells as a weather guard. Using a low watt solder iron and a gentle touch, solder the cells together in series. Carefully place them into place. Use a blocking diode to prevent the cells from draining the battery at night. Carefully lay your plexiglass over your new solar panel and seal.

 

About Author: I am an electrician / computer enthusiast of some 35 years and a keen avid renewable and alternative energy enthusiast who has been playing around with alternative ideas and better ways to save money especially now as the price of power is getting way out of hand.

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