Category Archives: Alternative Energy

Clean Burning Coal technologies in the U.S – Prediction

In the United States, coal which is primarily used for electricity generation is the second largest contributor of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas contributing to environmental pollution, and sulfur dioxide responsible for causing acid rains.

Clean coal technology aims to reduce the environmental impact of coal energy generation by making the coal burn clean.

Clean Coal Burning CCS

The importance of clean coal technology is that it could greatly reduce the US dependence on the use of foreign oil thereby providing energy security, and making a positive environmental impact.

Clean Coal Technology

If clean burning coal were to become a primary and environmentally clean source for generating electricity, then this technology could be combined with energy storage materials such as high capacity batteries that could be used in the electric vehicles, and other industries.

Although, there is Vattenfall, a clean burning coal testing plant that was built in Germany in 2008 by the Swedish firm, it is not clear how economically feasible this technology is today. Another implication is that there is no clear way to dispose off carbon dioxide that is collected from the use of clean coal burning technology.

If the clean coal burning technology does not reach the level of economic feasibility, then there will be a potential for great disruptions due to the limited amounts of crude oil. There’s also a risk that many countries that have a lot of coal to burn will continue doing so without really addressing the problem of greenhouse gas emissions.

Research and development to overcome CCS challenges

The biggest challenge in the clean coal burning technology lies in carbon dioxide capture and storage process (CCS). There are three principal ways to capture CO2 produced in power plants: Oxyfuel combustion, post-combustion and precombustion. There is currently a test plant in operation built by vattenfall in Germany. The tests are performed to evaluate the technology of Oxyfuel combustion before building a larger scale demonstration plant.

Prediction:

It seems likely that there will be more clean burning coal plants built and implemented throughout the world and potentially in the U.S through the governmental push, but it is hard to say if this technology will actually reach the level of economic feasibility, and if a solution can be found to dispose of the collected carbon dioxide gases.

My prediction is that clean burning coal technology may become more advanced, but I do not believe that that will be fully integrated as a viable source of clean electricity generation by 2025. Yet, I think that scientific advances made during this period will make this technology more feasible in the future. Further, just as the ongoing research and development can potentially make clean coal burning technology more feasible in the future, so will the advances in the wind farms, geothermal energy, solar technology, and nuclear power generation.

Other Alternatives to Hedge against potential Coal Technology Failure:

I think wind farms in particular have a strong potential to become a viable source of alternative energy. My belief is supported by the fact that wind power has become the second largest source of alternative energy after biomass derived energy in the United Kingdom. There is no reason why this technology could not become more integrated in the United States.

Also, I believe that nuclear power plants which accounted for 19.6% of the total electric energy consumption in the U.S in 2008, will become even more integrated thereby providing a solid hedge in case the clean coal technology never reaches the level of economic feasibility.

References:


http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/overview.html

What Does Alternative Energy Mean?

Alternative energy is a concept of utilizing any form of renewable energy, which replaces fuel sources that are non-renewable. For example, fossil fuels are non-renewable, which means that when all the reserves of fossil fuels are used up, there will be no more fossil fuel left to use. Thus, fossil fuel is the form of a non-renewable energy.

With every source of energy it may entail, alternative energy is not harmful to the environment in ways that fossil fuels are.

When fossil fuels are burned, high emissions of carbon dioxide are emitted into the earth’s atmosphere. This is thought by experts to be a major factor contributing to global warming.

Example of Alternative Energy:

Solar Panels mounted on the roof and angled towards the sun are used to harness solar energy and convert it into electric current.

Wind Turbines installed in open fields on in the windy seas catch wind, which causes rotor blades to spin. This process can help generate many mega watts of electricity.

Geothermal Energy uses the heat, which is extracted as a pressurized steam from deep within the earth to spin the blades of an electric generator and produce electricity.

Hydrogen fuels cells, nuclear, and tidal waves spun hydro-electric generators are also examples of alternative energy sources.

Solar Panels are Not Just for the Sunny States!

In-spite all the rage amongst Eco-friendly architects, solar panels have become increasingly more popular with the average homeowner over the last decade. In the past, solar panels have often been used to make a statement of innovation and sustainability for an organization to which it mattered, rather than being a true utilitarian measure employed for obtaining a cost-effective electricity in a clean and sustainable way.

Nowadays, we are witnessing a turn around trend, and with solar panels becoming more affordable, we are starting to see far more companies and individuals investing in solar panels for their private uses. This change is by and large motivated by the actual cost savings that individuals and companies can derive through the use of solar panels that generate electricity.

How do Solar Panels work?

The solar panels can often be mounted on top of the roof of a building, where they are angled towards the sun so that they can get the maximum exposure to collect solar UV rays and transform the solar energy into electricity. Here is how the process works; Solar energy gets collected by the Solar panels that generate electricity, which passes through the inverter after which it can be used to power home appliances, and supply electricity for the building. The excess electricity can be stored in the accumulator type batteries, or it can be sold back to the Electric grid for electric credits.

Solar Panels mounted on a Roof


Why are solar panels considered sustainable and green form of energy?

Solar panels generate electricity from solar energy, which constitutes a sustainable energy source, one that is carbon and emissions free. Thus, electricity derived through harnessing of solar energy is considered green and environmentally friendly.

Do solar panels require direct sunlight?

One common misconception of solar panels – that you need direct sunlight, and lots of it, to collect enough energy to make the investment worth it. The simple answer: absolutely not. Solar panels are not just for the sunny states, and work almost anywhere in the United States, even in the typically windy, gloomy cities of the Midwest. Solar energy involves UV rays much more than actual sunlight, and these rays are transmitted and captured even on cloudy days. With further technological advancements, solar panels should have no problem collecting solar UV rays and generating electricity even when it is cloudy, rainy, or cold.

Homeowners in the Midwest and North East need not cite a lack of sunlight outside of summer as a reason not to invest in solar panels. Another reason to consider investing in solar panels is the fact that they are rapidly becoming much more cost effective, and worth a long-term investment due to rapidly improving technology.

In the 1980s, the cost of capturing energy from the Sun was about $100 per watt, or literally one hundred times more expensive than the going rate of electricity. By the 1999, technology had reduced that figure to $4 per watt, and it has been declining steadily since, at an average rate of 5% a year.

Using solar panel derived electricity, can help reduce your regular electricity bill. In order for solar panels to pay for themselves, they need to be in operation for some 10-15 years, while solar hot water panels require some 8 to 12 of operation to cover the initial cost of investment. Thus solar panels are a long-term investment, which can be a great opportunity for the homeowners not looking to change their place of residence anytime soon. Over time, solar panels can really prove to be a solid investment in your home, and a cool one too.


Warranty

Most solar panels come with a 20-25 year warranty, so you will see a return on your investment before they needs to be replaced again.

Solar Incentives and State rebates

Many states, especially California, are investing heavily in solar energy and see it as a means to harness sustainable, and affordable energy. Currently, some 35 US states offer rebates for home and small business owners who invest in solar panels, which helps make them even more cost effective. The government also provides tax breaks and other benefits for those who want to use solar energy and other types of alternative energy sources for their home or business.

Solar energy is the way of the future, but it can also be an affordable and solid investment today. You do not have to live in a sunny state to reap the benefits of solar energy. Solar UV rays can be harvested in gloomier states, and still provide a significant benefit to the environment, and to your utility bill.