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While many countries still back the wrong horse by supporting its growth with fossil fuels, some emerging countries bet on solar energy to build a sustainable economy just as well as a solution to energy deserts, especially in MENA and across the African continent.

Experts of alternative energy are calling Nigeria ‘the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy’. “Nigeria is the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy sources and, if properly utilized, Nigeria can realize its place in the world as a great power,” says economist and activist Jeremy Rifkin.

The rising African country has set a target of meeting 40 percent of its energy needs through renewable energy by 2020.

And in this effort, the country is relying on renewable solar power. With an average of 320 to 350 sunny days a year and vast tracks of deserts and farm land, Nigeria could easily generate 5,000 trillion KWh of solar energy, says Dr. Patrick Owelle, a Solar Energy Scholar and Research Fellow.

Expert predict that the country could install around 1,000 GW of solar generation — equivalent to 40 times the current peak power demand (about 25 GW) — using just 0.5 percent of its land.

Nigeria is not a single case in a world that is looking to reduce carbon footprint and foster alternative and renewable sources of power. And in the race, solar seems to be way ahead compared to other renewables.

However, in parts of the world where there is a rising demand for alternative power, as in Nigeria, there is also a debate about which solar technology would best suit a country or region.

While it is undeniable that solar energy is far more dependable than other forms of renewable energy, there is a rising debate whether to use concentrated solar power (CSP) or photovoltaic (PV) cells.

Dino Green, a Mechanical Engineer and a qualified accredited expert in certification of energy performance of buildings identifies the criteria that is generally debated while choosing the solar power technology to be used.

“Energy markets consider three main factors in deciding on power sources – cost of energy, ancillary services and power dispatch-ability on demand,” Greene says.

Experts say that a time is coming where there probably would be no competition between the two technologies and they may work together to increase solar energy penetration into the power industry.

The primary advantage of CSP technology is its ability to store solar energy. Silvio Marcacci Silvio, Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate policy public relations company based in Oakland, CA, even defines CSP technology as “the technology that will save humanity”. “CSP could meet up to 7% of the world’s projected electricity needs in 2030, and 25% by 2050”, says Silvio.

Given all the strong arguments in favor CSP, the technology is criticized for taking up a large area to install it traditionally uses static parabolic mirrors to concentrate solar energy and then passing that down the line through a system of heated water. This heated water runs a turbine that produces electricity.

However with the advent of the Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector or CLFR technology, CSP can shed off the criticism of taking up space. French firm Sun CNIM is the pioneer in LFR technology for solar power generation and has successfully set up and operated a pilot project in France. The company says that the technology has moved beyond the pilot stage and Sun CNIM is now ready to commercialize the technology for large solar power projects.

Moreover, “Sun CNIM’s Fresnel technology and direct steam generation avoid the use of hazardous fluid such as thermal oils, making them the ‘cleanest’ technologies currently available,” says Sun CNIM in a statement.

Linear Fresnel is a line-focusing technology consisting of reflectors that track the sun in one axis and focus the beam radiation onto fluid-carrying receiver tubes.

IRENA’s 2012 CSP report (*) draws out the advantages of LFR technology over trough technology. The report states that main advantages of Fresnel CSP systems compared to troughs are that Linear Fresnel Collectors (LFCs) can use cheaper flat glass mirrors, which are a standard mass-produced commodity, and that they require less steel and concrete – as the metal support structure is lighter – which simplifies the assembly process and leads to cost reductions.

“According to the status of development in 2012, the parabolic trough seems to be at the end of its evolution because of the temperature limitations, complicated manufacturing and toxicity of the HTF. Therefore, I would prefer the Fresnel technology and the solar tower technology. Both use nearly flat mirrors which enable a higher share of local production”, says Dr.-Eng. Hani El Nokraschy, Co-Founder and Vice Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Desertec Foundation.

According to the French firm Sun CNIM, LFR is easily integrated into the grid and can be operated on isolated sites. “The technology is flexible where the component modules can be installed in accordance with capacity requirements and can be act as a hybrid to other alternative power sources like biomass, fossil fuel or methanization plants, etc,” says Sun CNIM communiqué.

Fresnel may give an additional advantage because of shadowing the ground. This enables planting under the mirror roof protecting the plants from the burning sunrays and thus saving irrigation water”, Dr. Nokraschy says.

Another advantage of the LFR technology is the reduced optical losses and less mirror-glass breakage since the wind loads on LFCs are smaller according to the French innovation technology firm Sun CNIM.

Moreover, the mirror surface per receiver is higher in the LFC than in parabolic trough collector, which is important given that the receiver is the most expensive component in both technologies.

“Until recently, linear Fresnel plants were mainly pilot projects. But with remarkable advancements, the technology is quickly gaining operational parity with the parabolic trough, and the world’s largest Fresnel power plant has already started operation in Spain,” says Heba Hashem, a technology expert based in UAE.

With the debate over choice of technology for solar energy nearly over, researchers and businesses are now concentrating on ways and means to develop technologies that can better the storage of solar power. This is considered to be the next big step in solar power attaining maturity.

(*) http://www.irena.org/documentdownloads/publications/re_technologies_cost_analysis-csp.pdf

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Environment

How To Save Water At Work

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When you’re at home, you know how to save water and do better for your house. Living in a green way is easy at home, but what about at work? When you are not the owner of a business premises, it’s not always easy to be green. However, there are things that you can do as a business that will ensure that you are analyzing your water efficiency and you can then reduce the water use in your workplace.

Below, we’ve put together some of the best ways that you can conserve water in your workplace. You can continue your green efforts in the workplace this way!

Get Your Management Team On Your Side

If you are planning to start water conservation efforts at work, you need the rest of your management team on your side. They need to be happy to work with you and ensure that your water conservation efforts are successful. If you’re working as one team, you’re far more likely to save the planet a little aggravation and you can successfully prevent flooding, too.

Research 

You need to know the best ways to conserve water, and we’re willing to bet that you haven’t looked at whether you can get permission from your landlord about installing water tanks from  watertankfactory.com.au/water-tanks-dalby/. You need to research what you can and cannot do in terms of saving water in any way possible. 

Put Together A List

You need to know why you are saving water and what it will be for. Filtering rainwater for free, drinkable water in the office is a genius way to keep employees cool. You can also use it for the external garden of your business, as a way to flush the toilets and you can also use it to clean the floors. 

Know How You Already Use Your Water

How does your business consume water? Where is it mostly used through the working week? If you can ensure that you are using your water properly, you will be able to encourage your staff to do the same thing. Conservation only works when everyone is on board!

Bring In The Experts

Do you have leaky faucets? Are you dealing with pipes that are broken or cracked in any way? Any of these things can cause your water payments to shoot right up. Bringing in the experts to assess your current water systems and evaluate your pipework is the best way to ensure that you are saving water. You can stop the waste when you have someone in to assess what you are dealing with.

Save It

By buying rainwater tanks and saving the rainfall, you can use less of the water from the faucets and the pipes in the building. You can add a good filtration system and this will help you to get rid of the nasties in the water and reduce the contaminants that you could be facing.

Water conservation is not just for your house. And now you know how to get it right!

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Environment

Ten Totally Awesome Ways To Save Water

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Living on a planet that’s mostly made up of water means that water is our biggest commodity here on Earth. We use it every single day whether we are showering, washing dishes or clothes, watering the garden or even using the toilet. In our homes, we use a lot of water and we rarely think about what we’re using. Most countries using water are fortunate enough not to have to worry about how much they are using each day, while there are other places in the world that do everything that they canfor the tiniest possible drop of water. 

In fact, half of the world’s global population doesn’t have access to clean drinking water, so it’s our responsibility to save as much water as possible and not waste it. Water waste depletes one of our biggest resources, and it makes sense to save water – and money – as much as we can. When you are running a home, the amount of water that you use has to be a concern for you as you are paying for the service of clean water piped into your home. Much in the way you wouldn’t stand there switching the light on and off to waste electricity, you need to learn how you can save as much water as possible. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at ten awesome ways you can do just that. 

Switch It Off

Such a simple thing to do, and yet it’s one of the things that people find hardest to do! Leaving faucets running while brushing teeth is not ideal and you can save tanks of water every year by switching the faucet off until you need it again. It’s the same as running the shower for too long when you are waiting for it to warm up and you to get in – give it five seconds and get in! You should also think about limiting the time that you spend in the shower to conserve the water you are running. If you see a water source running, turn it off and you’ll be saving energy, too.

Use Composting For Food

If you have leftover food, don’t throw it down the garbage disposal. The garbage disposal wastes a lot of water and you can save yourself the money and the water waste by throwing the old food scraps on the compost pile and giving the rest to the dog. The garbage disposal relies on water running to break down the food, so you are going to be making a big difference by switching it off.

Wrap Your Pipes

While it’s helpful to purchase slimline water tanks to catch any dripping water, you can save a lot of water by insulating your pipes. In the cooler weather, pipes have a tendency to crack and split, which makes them leak water all over the place. It also takes hot water a lot longer to flow through the pipes because they’re too cold to manage. So, if you insulate your pipes properly, you can prevent these two ways to waste water. By all means, get those water tanks regardless: you could always use new ways to save water!

Repair Cracks

We just mentioned that colder weather can make the pipes crack, and it’s true that this happens easily. Instead of wasting both water and money on this, why not start looking at getting those leaks repaired? It’s not just pipes, either. Leaky garden hoses, faucets, shower heads and broken toilets can all cause leaks in the system. Bring in an expert if you can’t fix it yourself!

Don’t Do Half Measures

Washing the clothes in the house can be time-consuming, but if you’re constantly putting on half-loads of laundry, you are going to waste an awful lot of water. It’s’ not just clothes: half-loads for dishwashers are just as detrimental to the water supply in your home. Wait until the loads are full before you run them, and you’ll be able to save a ton of water. 

Embrace Handwashing

Believe it or not, you don’t need to keep the water running when you wash dishes and clothes. You can fill a sink with water and submerge whatever you’re washing in the soapy water. All you need is a plug, and you can make sure that the sink doesn’t drain out while you are washing up. There’s no need to run a whole dishwasher just for one or two items.

Adjust Garden Hoses & Sprinklers

Whether you are working on a commercial garden or on your own, you need to adjust the hoses and sprinklers to ensure that you aren’t wasting any water. Put them all on automatic timers so that you can ensure that they turn off after the right time and not just keep watering! There’s no need to waste more money on watering the garden than necessary

Know Where The Shut-Off Is

Sometimes, you can make all the adjustments in the world and still find a leak in the house. You need to know where the water shut-off switches and valves are so that in the event of a leak that you cannot find or control, you can stop the flow of water. The last thing that you need is a street full of water and a flood threatening your basement. So, work out how to turn off the water and you can save yourself a lot of money and waste at the same time.

Go For Low Maintenance

If your garden is fully lawned and landscaped, you need to look at how you can make it more low maintenance. It’s lovely to have a lot of greenery but if you are going to be risking needing to water the garden almost continuously, then you could swap to artificial grass that doesn’t need your attention as often. There are plenty of plants who don’t use as much water, either. These are the plants you want to have in your garden if you are looking at saving water.

Choose Low-Flow

Low-flow toilets and faucets can help you to save water without even trying. You can even change your showerhead to a slow-flow option and ensure that you are saving water without any of the impact on your daily activities.

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Environment

Nuclear Power and Other Power Sources: How Do They Stack Up?

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Most everyone dreads the idea of nuclear war because of the abject devastation it would inflict on planet Earth. Yet few connect the dots between nuclear weapons and nuclear power — the same energy that makes atomic bombs and nuclear missiles so threatening is also harnessed to power electrical grids and other forms of infrastructure. When properly contained, nuclear power is the cleanest and most abundant energy source available. With all the concern over climate change and environmental degradation, it begs a huge question: why is the United States of America not generating more — much more — nuclear energy?

Capital Investment vs. Production Costs

Looking at it from one angle, a larger nuclear energy capacity is a no-brainer. Making electricity from nuclear sources is cheaper than using coal, gas or petroleum, i.e. fossil fuels. On average, using 2011 cash value, electricity cost 21.56, 3.23 and 4.51 cents per kilowatt-hour from petroleum, coal and natural gas, respectively. Nuclear power came in at 2.10 cents per kW according to data received by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Yet these simple ongoing production costs fail to tell the full story.

To up the power generating capacity of nuclear sources, additional plants are necessary. Some argue that the savings in electricity production means the nuclear utilities pay for themselves. What, though, are they paying for…and how long until the payoff? Engineering and constructing a nuclear power plant is very expensive. In fact, 74 percent of the cost of nuclear-sourced electricity is in the capital costs of creating the physical facility and technology for that purpose. Some estimates range drom six-billion to nine-billion dollars. Others estimate over $5,300 per kW before it begins paying for itself…in 20 to 30 years. These figures make the prospect cost-prohibitive to many decision makers in government and business.

Plentiful Energy at Low Costs without Nuclear Power

Were we living back during the oil shocks and embargoes of the 1970s, the urgency factor would be much higher concerning nuclear power in the US. The abundance of discoveries and advancement of technology have made fossil fuels more available at modest prices. Coal and petroleum are each low compared to their peaks. With the advent of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” natural gas is ever more accessible and affordable. Though people may worry about the environmental effects of burning these substances, they are likely to continue usage to maintain a decent househild cash flow.

Still, even the renewable alternatives to traditional fuels are dropping in price. In terms of sheer volume, wind turbines and solar panels — for instance — have yet to match the output of fossil fuels, much less the overwhelming energy yield of nuclear. Nevertheless, their contribution to production in the United States is growing while their financial outlays are shrinking. Added to the two aforementioned renewable sources, hydro-electric power, biomass and geothermal each come in under 10 cents per kW. According to Forbes magazine, this makes them highly competitive with oil and gas financially.

Lack of Knowledge

The absence of urgency mentioned above relates to a third factor about why Americans are not expanding their nuclear production capacity. Generations have passed that are not well-informed about the potential and reality of nuclear power. A dangerous accident at Pennsylvania’s Three-Mile Island facility in the 1970s scared public officials and policy makers into backing off of a pro-nuclear agenda. The improvements and replication found in today’s safety protocols have been ineffective in re-booting a national conversation. Granted, the United States operates 97 nuclear reactors, more than any other country. Yet only four more are under design and/or construction compared to 20 for China.

Furthermore, France relies on nuclear for three-quarters of its electricity; several eastern European nations, half; South Korea, in excess of 30 percent; while the U.S. can claim around 20 percent. Clearly, the public knowledge regarding how clean and abundant atomic energy is meager; awareness of past accidents — including the Fukushima Daiichi and Chernobyl meltdowns of recent decades were, by contrast, reported widely by media outlets.

Advocates of nuclear power have work to do to bring Americans on board. Otherwise, dirtier, cheaper sources will continue to reign.

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