Alternative Engergy, part 2–Active solar energy

Alternative Engergy, part 2–Active solar energy

By Dan Slattery

Alternative Energy, Part 2

Active solar energy

Out of all forms of energy, active solar power is the cleanest of all sources—100 percent. No spent nuclear fuel to store, recycle or eliminate. No carbon dioxide byproducts from natural gas or coal. The only other source of electrical power that otherwise has absolutely no byproducts that pollute is hydroelectric.

Some think that it takes a massive up-front investment in solar power technology to get started. This is not necessarily the case. Most folks can start with small, less expensive systems and build upon that, as in a building-block scenario. Start small, and work your way up. The immediate savings can be apparent.

Basically, you need the following items to put together a solar-electric, generating system:

A. A solar-cell panel or array of panels

B. A DC-to-AC power inverter (to run your home appliances at 120 volts AC)

C. Storage batteries (to run the inverter and appliances) and be charged when sunlight is at its peak during the day, and discharge at night to run your appliances (generally, 12V deep-cycle marine).

Programs are also in place that allow you to sell back to your local utility any excess power that you generate. In Rockford, you can call ComEd at 1-877-451-3915 and request a copy of their information package called “Capture the Power.” This also applies to wind turbine generators, which we will explore later.

We have a situation in Illinois now where a number of “peaker plants” (electrical) will be constructed soon, or are currently under construction. My question is this: Why, when we know that solar power is free and non-polluting, are these electric peaker plants being run on natural gas, when our gas prices have virtually tripled this past year? Supply and demand. Again, I feel I must relent or attribute this to corporate greed and/or politics.

The Midwest Renewable Energy Association is having its 12th annual Renewable Energy and Sustainable Living Fair June 22-24 of this year. For more information on these and other renewable energy subjects, call the following number: 1-715-592-6595. Many classes and workshops involving solar energy, from beginning to advanced, will be offered.

These include: “Making PV Happen” (photovoltaics); “Women’s PV Overview”; “Advanced Photovoltaics” (installation); “Solar Water Pumping”; “Energy Star Homes” (Wis. Energy Star Homes); “Energy-Efficient Appliances for Conventional & Off-Grid Homes”; “Energy Star Appliances & Lights”; “Solar-Wise in the Classroom”; “How Solar Cells Work”; “It’s From the Sun”; “Making Solar Panels”; “Jr. Solar Sprint”; “Mysteries of the Photovoltaic Cell.”

These are issues focused on active solar energy. Next, we’ll look at passive solar energy.

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