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SEPCO's blog on all things renewable and green

Amazing Changes Happening Now for Sustainable Living: Renewable Energy

Posted by SEPCO

7/31/14 9:30 AM

Renewable-Energy

Renewable energy has been booming, especially in the last couple years. Renewable energy resources have been around for a long time; however, their popularity has increased with the ongoing movement towards trying to slow down global warming. There are many forms of renewable energy that have been used, developed and installed even as I write this. Here are the largest forms of renewable energy and a little bit about their usage today.

Solar Energy

We are a solar company so of course solar is our favorite. Solar panels provide energy during the day, from practically sun up to sun down. There is so much solar energy to be harvested, that like many statistics and memes say, so much solar energy hits the earth that if we could power the needs of the world for 25 years or more in a single day of sun. The only problem with that is creating enough solar panels to harvest all that energy and then storing the power so it can be accessed after the sun goes down; however, there are people working on energy storage as we speak. Solar energy can also be used for other applications such as water heating or heating a building / home.

Wind Energy

Wind energy can provide a ton of energy day and night as long as the wind is moving. Today’s wind power is generated by a windmill turning a turbine that generates power to feed electricity to power lines; however, wind power has been used in the past for grinding grain and pumping water. Wind farms can be installed in a large open area or offshore and provide a lot of power to nearby areas. Storage of this power is still being developed, just like solar power; however, seems to be a more popular approach to large scale power generation. New developments in wind power are being made to harness wind power when there is little wind and windmills that protect wildlife from harm.

Geothermal Energy

Geothermal power extracts steam from underground and uses that to power turbines to generate power. The water is extracted during this process and fed back under the Earth’s surface to generate more steam. The main drawback to this form of power generation is the steam can carry a mixture of gases that contribute to global warming, bad smells and acid rain. These gases need to be contained and not put into the atmosphere.

Hydropower & Tidal Energy

Both hydropower and tidal energy uses the natural flow of water to turn turbines to generate power. Dams have been set up on rivers and underwater windmill looking devices have been setup on shores to harness this power. Since tides are more predictable than the winds or sun, tidal power is growing in popularity as a great way to harness power; however, there is still controversy in changing the natural flow of water and disturbing natural habitats.

Every form of renewable energy has its pros and cons; however, by combining forces and utilizing each form to its capacity, we will one day be able to move towards a more sustainable world. Here in sunny south Florida, solar will always be my favorite source of energy. What is your favorite and why?
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Topics: Green Ideas, Alternative Energy, Renewable Energy

What is Included in a Remote Solar Power System Package

Posted by SEPCO

5/8/14 4:35 PM

Atlantic-Group-5

Remote solar power systems provide power to areas where power doesn’t already exist or is difficult to bring out the grid. These types of systems can operate anything from a small light to large scale applications. Every system should be built to specification of the device they are operating and provide enough backup power for times of bad weather.

When purchasing your remote solar power system package, make sure to understand exactly what is included and what you should expect to receive. Different manufacturers may include different brand of components, but the standard complete system should be comprised of the same type of parts.

Solar Panels – The first and biggest component of a remote solar power system is the solar panels. Each panel is able to produce a certain amount of power, so make sure to get specifications on the panel to find out exactly what you should expect. A solar panel is comprised of silicon cells placed on a grid and protected by glass and framing. Additional panel protection is useful in areas where there are high chances of vandalism or wind-blown debris. The protection can be in the form of Lexan on the top of the solar or aluminum riveted to the back of the solar.

Battery Assembly – The next component to pay close attention to is the battery assembly. Making sure there is enough power in the battery to handle the load can make or break the system. You never want the battery to completely deplete down to zero, especially not every day, due to cycling of the battery. Batteries only hold a number of cycles, and if you deplete your battery to nothing every day, your battery system will only last a short amount of time. This also does not provide backup for times of little sun due to inclement weather. A minimum of five days autonomy is best for most applications, more for areas with a lot of snow or bad weather.

Charge Controller – The charge controller tells the system when to charge the battery and when to utilize the power. Your charge controller should always have a LVD Low Voltage Disconnect so that if the batteries get below a certain point, they will no longer pull the power and wait for the batteries to be recharged by the solar. The charge controller also tells the battery when night has come and to turn on the system when you have dusk to dawn system. Additional control options can be used to provide different operating requirements.

Making sure all components of your remote solar power system’s package are high grade and can meet the specifications of the load will ensure your system will run reliably for years. Remember, solar panels last 25 or more years, batteries should be replaced every five to seven years and your charge controller varies, but should be good for about 10 years or more. Researching companies and getting the specifications and warranty information of each component will help you choose the best system for your application.

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Topics: Solar Power, Off Grid Solar PV, Alternative Energy, Renewable Energy

Recent Advances In Green Technology

Posted by SEPCO

3/13/14 9:30 AM

Solar_System

Attempting to make the world an improved and pollution-free place to live is not a straightforward task, and there are no settled principles. This is one of the tests we confront when making, executing and depending on different sources of energy; since no single source of energy is 100% 'clean'. Nonetheless, year-after-year we continue to make great strides along the difficult road to environmentally responsible energy sources.

As temperatures increases and population gets bigger, it’s clear that green engineering holds the way to the survival of Earth and all the species that live on it. Luckily, innovators all around the globe are endeavoring to create headways that will slow down or perhaps reduce the harm caused due to our over-reliance on fossil-powers.

According to Liberty Power, in a few cases, progress in green technology is dependent upon new discoveries and developments in science, physics and engineering. On the other hand, these advancements have been dead set generally by shift in thought processes. However, the thought of "green’’ is gaining popularity among people.

Several recent innovations are based on a century-old concept: that of using tidal power to generate electricity. Harnessing this renewable resource is rapidly becoming more practical and cost-effective. In the area of solar power, the use of copper-indium-gallium-selenide compounds in solar panels substantially increases the electrical power generating efficiency of these panels, plus the compounds make construction of the panels far easier. Bladeless wind turbine designs, based on the physics of ships sails, are expected to significantly reduce the number of deaths of birds and bats. Wind turbine technology is also continuing to evolve.

Some innovative advancement in green technology are as follows:

Marine Renewable Energy: Marine renewable energy works by harnessing the power of the ocean tides and currents; a continuous source of kinetic energy that can be used to power turbines which in turn produce electricity.

Solar Power: The sun provides enough energy in the form of light to supply the world with much more energy than we currently use globally.  Certain materials produce an electric current when exposed to light, and we can harness that current to generate electricity.

Algae-Based Biofuel: Algae is a simple organism ranging from single-celled to multi-cellular forms, and is typically thought of as a kind of plant due to its ability to perform photosynthesis. Using chemical and mechanical methods, oil can be extracted from algae and converted into fuel that acts in the same way as traditional petroleum fuels

Green Roof: Different countries are rapidly adopting idea of keeping their roofs planted with grass. It not only minimizes the heat effect but also reduce summer air conditioning usage.

With this transformation in green technology it is expected that we would not only be able to generate enough energy to fulfill our needs but also keep our planet safe and healthy.

Author’s Bio: Adam Prattler is an expert in geography and writes from time to time for different information sources. He is also fond of natural beauty so much that he prefers to have fake grass around his house since natural cannot grow.

Photo Credit: www.greenerideal.com

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Topics: Guest Post, Green Ideas, Solar Power, Renewable Energy

What if the US followed Germany’s Renewable Energy Policies in 2014

Posted by SEPCO

1/9/14 9:30 AM

SolarGermany.jpgGermany is leading the renewable energy industry for the last couple years, far in front of most of the rest of the world. What do you think would happen if the US followed suit and put in place the same or similar policies? Would we be able to catch up? Would we finally have some energy independence?

First off, the US doesn’t have an overall renewable energy policy. Each state is left to do what it feels like with no overall governing force. Subsidies are still going to oil and other dirty forms of energy. Some money is being pushed into renewable energy; however, it is still a fraction of the amount being spent every year. Developing clean energy policies is a necessity to get us on track and money needs to be spent on these forms of energy.

Germany has clear set goals and the government is funding the projects to make it happen. They have already reached over 20% energy produced by renewable energy and are quickly moving towards their goal of 35% by 2020. Honestly, I think they will make it there before. I’ve even had the firsthand experience seeing a nuclear plant in Germany completely surrounded by wind power stations and the nuclear plant was off. That was an amazing sight (I wish I grabbed a picture though).

Best of all, corporations don’t own the majority of the renewable energy in Germany. Actual citizens own the power. Here in Florida for example, FPL owns some renewable energy plants and gives money to homeowners who want to put solar on their house. Sounds great, right? Not really, as FPL only gives a tiny amount of money, all of which is gone within minutes of the funds being released. If you don’t have a good solar company fighting for you, you will miss out on getting it. And what about the extra power you feed into the grid? FPL won’t pay you for that. They’ll give you a credit towards your bill if you ever use more than you produce, but after a year, the credits are reset back to zero. A win for FPL, but a loss for homeowners wanting to use solar and use the credits to help pay for the change.

WindGermany.jpgWell that’s Florida and people dealing with FPL. Other states have other policies and there are power companies that will actually pay you for your excess power. But what about states like Arizona. They are now charging their customers who use solar energy a fee. The fee is small, but what is it going to do to solar installations in Arizona. Especially since the sun is great in Arizona, making solar a great option for homeowners and businesses alike.

Instead of fighting this renewable energy changeover, the government needs to get on board and push good policies to get us finally in the right direction. Instead of dropping pennies out there to help homeowners make the change, put policies in place that stops the feed of subsidies going to oil, coal and other dirty forms of energy and get the money where it will have a better ROI. Instead of literally burning the money away, let’s let it shine for many years to come by implementing better renewable energy policies in the US. The US is moving towards renewable energy, but putting country wide policies into place will ensure our energy independence faster and more efficiently in the new year.

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Topics: Clean Energy, Alternative Energy, Renewable Energy

This Article Will Change the Way You Think About Solar Energy

Posted by SEPCO

12/19/13 9:30 AM

Most people by now will have heard of solar energy and will have a good idea of what it is, but that doesn't mean that they necessarily know everything there is to know about it. Indeed scientists don't know everything there is to know about solar energy, which is partly what makes it so fascinating. So even if you think you have a good grasp on what solar energy is and how it works, you probably don't know everything there is to know about it - nor just how amazing it really is. Read on and I'll show you…

The Basics:

Let's start with the basics. The first thing you may not realise is that the sun provides us with two types of energy which can both be considered 'solar' energy. One is heat (solar thermal), and the other is light (solar voltaic). It's light energy from the sun that most of us are interested in and that most solar panels use as it is a more efficient source of power.

Solar voltaic power works by using electrons that have been arranged into a particular pattern. This arrangement is such that when those electrons are hit by light, they will then be 'excited' and will start to move as a current. This is the current we then harness and transform in order to power lights, computers and more.

The Power of the Sun:

The important role of the sun is something that we shouldn't underestimate and it's not just light and heat that it provides us with. Of course the sun is what holds the Earth in orbit, but it's also what provided us with the basic elements necessary for life. Well - actually it wasn't our sun that provided us with most of those elements. Our sun produces a lot of helium, but it actually requires a star to die and collapse for there to be enough energy to create elements like, say, carbon. Which means that your actual body was original created in the heart of a dying star and then travelled through space to Earth. Which is amazing…

SunSolarEnergy

Also amazing is to think that actually most forms of energy on Earth came from the sun originally - the only difference is the degrees of separation. Fossil fuels for instance simply contain energy that was created by photosynthesis from the sun, geothermal energy comes from where the ground has been heated by the sun, wind energy is possible thanks to air pressure changes caused by the sun and the geothermal energy… only tidal energy is really any different which is formed by the moon's gravity.

The sun provides us with all our energy, and the stars gave us the elements that make up our planet. So of course it makes sense to go directly to the source for our most efficient energy solutions.

The Nature of Light:

What's also amazing though is the nature of light itself. Famously, light behaves as both a wave and a particle which is what gave us the basis for quantum physics and is something we still don't entirely understand. Furthermore, light can travel indefinitely with no medium to travel 'through' which is what allows it to reach Earth from the sun and the stars. And if nothing gets in the way of the light's path then it will travel endlessly out into space - eventually spreading out into single photons that may well travel for the entire lifespan of the universe itself.

LightRaySolarEnergy

About the Author: This post is contributed by Gemma Hastings. She is a solar power expert and works with www.solarpanelgrants.org. She promotes her opinions and ideas on living an eco-friendly lifestyle through her writings.

Img Src: Pixabay.com and Flicker.com

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Topics: Solar Lighting, Solar Power, Alternative Energy, Renewable Energy

5 Amazing Renewable Energy Videos

Posted by SEPCO

8/1/13 9:30 AM

Donald Sadoway: The missing link to renewable energy

Take a look at a great video from a recent TED.com conference that goes over a great innovation to energy storage. This video features a way to “invent our way out” of the energy storage crisis to be able to harness renewable energy at all times, store the power, and use that stored power to feed the grid to keep up with the energy demands at all times.

 

Renewable Energy and the Energy Transition

Here is a great video showing why moving towards renewable energy is needed and how Germany is actually able to do this. Definitely shows how one country is doing it and how the rest of the world should follow in their footsteps.

 

 

The Future of Renewable Energy: Quayle Hodek at TEDxMaui 2013

Yes, another TED talk, but there is a ton of great information from TED. Quayle talks about how he is working to convince companies to use renewable energy. He also explains on why renewable is at its tipping point and will eventually win overall for power.

 

The Artificial Leaf - Renewable Energy - Horizons

Harvard professor Daniel Nocera created a device that is working towards storing solar energy when the sun is down. Using water to split the hydrogen cells from oxygen cells and using the hydrogen at night to power devices. This could change how we do energy storage with solar energy.

 

The future of energy?

Cambridge University talks about how the demand of energy continues to skyrocket and ways to either improve our use of energy or find carbon neutral ways of producing energy. They cover wind energy and the pros and cons of this form. They also talk about ccs research and ideas for moving forward. They also go over ways to use less energy and improve efficiency of using the materials we already have.

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Topics: Alternative Energy, Renewable Energy

10 Fun Facts about the Renewable Energy Industry

Posted by SEPCO

7/30/13 9:30 AM

BNEF total MJI came across the great blog post the other day and wanted to share it with you. It was the 10 Renewable Energy Statistics you Might not Know and it hit the nail on the head. You can also check out the original post for more information and great links. Here is a quick overview:

1. It is estimated that renewable energy will rise at the rate of 25% of global gross power generation in 2018. 2011 global growth was at 20% and in 2006 it was 19%. This is good news.

2. Hydropower is the leader in global renewable generation and accounted for 16% in 2011.

3. Wind and solar power are the newest forms of renewable energy generation, but they are quickly moving forward with their production doubling to 8% of global renewable generation in 2018 from 4% in 2011.

4. Of all the places in the world, Germany is the leader in solar energy production as they have installed more solar then the rest of the world combined.

5. Iceland uses predominately hydropower, to the tune of 75%, and the rest comes from geothermal, solar and wind.

6. Global renewable generation exceeded the electric consumption of China in 2012.

7. China is the leader in hydropower production accounting for 40% of the growth in global power capacity through to 2018.

8. Wind power is the next leading form of renewable energy being deployed in 75 countries in 2018. China again is the leader in this form of renewable energy with US, Germany, Spain and India in the top 5 countries.

9. Six of the top 10 countries for wind power generation come from Europe and include Germany, Spain, UK, Italy, France and Portugal.

10. Even though renewable is on the rise in the US to the tune of 150% by 2040, it will only make up 16% of global generation mix by that point.

What other fun facts can you think of about the renewable energy industry? Let us know below.

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Topics: Alternative Energy, Renewable Energy

Photovoltaic Discoveries Around the Home with Children

Posted by SEPCO

4/16/13 9:30 AM

Renewable Energy with KidsSolar power is one of the cleanest and most reliably abundant sources of power we have encountered as a species. Wind may be clean as well, but it requires air currents. If we ever run out of solar power, we'll have bigger problems than power to worry about. Although the Sun is a great source for this power, did you know that other items around the home generate photovoltaic power as well? Armed with a solar cell and a typical current tester, you and your children can discover a world of wasted energy.

1. From the Sun - The most obvious form of solar power comes from our Sun. Although we are keen to use the collection of power produced by our star our faults lie within an affordable method to harness that power for use throughout our daily and nightly lifestyles. However, it is curious that we have been able to condense the power of a computer system from the size of a building to a device that fits in the palm of your hand but we can't make a viable form of power storage? My oldest child once commented on how much power from the sun is wasted every day as it shines on buildings, roads, fields, and more.

2. Florescent Bulbs - We discovered this photovoltaic discovery by accident. As we had quite a few solar recharging units for cell phones laying around the office, I noticed that even the unused brand new units where showing their power lights illuminated. As there were no windows or openings leading to the outside for these units to charge, my children and I began testing the chargers by allowing them to empty themselves into a phone and charging them in the office using the florescent bulbs in the ceiling. The closer we moved the solar unit to the bulb, the brighter the charging light became. While it took a great deal of time to charge one of the units to be able to supply a single bar of power in a phone, we were still able to do it without the use of solar exposure.

3. CFL Bulbs - As a spinoff from the above experiment my children helped me accomplish, we decided to test the compact fluorescent light bulbs that we had in our lighting fixtures at home. My oldest son had the idea of tearing apart one of the many solar chargers we have and connecting the voltmeter to it and see how much power the CFL produced. The excitement in his voice and the sparkle in his eyes were worth the experience alone as he discovered that putting the panel approximately one inch from the CFL bulb produced just over three volts of power. That's two AA batteries worth of voltage coming out of the bulb. Currently, he is experimenting on ways to harness the total power of the CFL in order to create a self-sustaining circuit. Quite impressive for a 13 year-old. So far, we haven't been able to create a self-sustaining lamp. But he is determined to do so.

Although the power provided by some of these items are indeed miniscule when you consider the grand scope of things, it is still an exhilarating discovery to the children to find other means of power. There is more to light than many of us realize and seeing the discoveries through the eyes of the children can open our own imaginations. Broaden their horizons by subjecting them to a power source that is superior to others in a variety of ways.

This is a guest post by Liz Nelson from WhiteFence.com. She is a freelance writer and blogger from Houston. Questions and comments can be sent to: liznelson17@gmail.com. Image attribution freedigitalphotos.net.

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Topics: Guest Post, Renewable Energy

Renewable Energy: Companies are Going Clean

Posted by SEPCO

4/9/13 9:30 AM

Green CompaniesIt seems more and more companies are starting to look to clean energy as a source of power. Apple recently announced 75 percent of its corporate facilities and data centers use renewable sources for power and they own the nation’s biggest privately-owned solar array. Their 100-acre, 20-megawatt facility can create 42 million kWh of renewable energy each year with less impact on the environment and climate. Apple is not the only powerhouse company jumping on the clean energy bandwagon. Google uses renewable sources to power more than 30 percent of their operations and is working toward ultimately having 100 percent of their power come in the form of clean energy.

Renewable sources include wind, solar, hydro and geothermal power, and these have a more positive effect on our environment, climate and health than fossil fuels or coal. Unfortunately, the world is very dependent upon these fuels for electricity and power generation and in the United States, they are the number one source for global warming emissions and a major contributor in air pollution. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, renewable energy resources generate electricity with few negative effects, and could provide up to 40 percent of the country’s electricity within the next 20 years. The installation costs can be pretty high and it may not be possible to fulfill all of your energy requirements from renewable energy like Apple and Google want to do, but by using the most effective technologies, a company can get close. The benefits of using clean energy generally outweigh any downsides.

After the cost of installation, solar panels, wind turbines, and geothermal energy systems cost nothing to run. Most will need periodic maintenance, but these sources could produce enough electricity to create excess. Plus, if you use an hourglass slewing drive within the system, you can get 30 years of reliable performance and cut back costs even more.

  • Sticking to natural energy sources means you won’t be affected when gas and electricity prices increase.
  • Users of clean energy don’t need to worry about wastage because it can be regenerated.
  • Focusing on renewable energy sources allows for the remaining oil, gas and coal supplies to last longer and be used where clean energy can’t be substituted.
  • The government may be able to help fund a project if it creates renewable energy.

Author Bio: Kinematics is the world's largest slewing drive manufacturer with a production capacity of over 4,200 units per week. Kinematics Manufacturing Inc. began in 1996 as a small operation outside of Los Angeles. Founder, Brent Morgan, designed specialty gearboxes, then machined, assembled and shipped them one at a time from a small, 50 m2 rented space. Kinematics delivers custom-engineered solutions to customers in 23 countries from its 14,500 m2 facility in Jiangsu, China and two distribution warehouses in Europe and the United States.

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Topics: Clean Energy, Renewable Energy

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