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Typical view of a HAWT based wind power plant Wind power basics: How do you calculate the Energy stored in the wind?: Wind kinetic Energy is KEw = AirMass*WindSpeed^2/2 AirMass is defined by the AirVolume that flows through the wind turbine * AirDensity …

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Dear Readers, Since it’s founding in 2009 Green Energy Reporter has published nearly 2,000 articles chronicling the most important developments in the North American renewable energy industry.

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Solar Thermal Technologies What dominating technology will play the largest part in the solution of providing clean energy in the future? Well the answer is that it stands between a handful of technologies where large scale or utility scale solar thermal generated electricity …

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NRG Energy, blaming  a lack of federal subsidies and regulatory uncertainty, has stopped development work supporting its offshore wind projects, including a 200-megawatt initiative in Delaware.

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First Solar, the U.S. developer of thinfilm photovoltaic panels, has reduced its earnings estimate for this year and next year and has announced plans to cut  100 jobs.

Energy types

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy was once considered alongside the fountain of youth, truly great but probably not in existence. This has changed recently as renewable sources of energy are rediscovered and modernized. This is not the first time that wind has been used to create power, or the sun, or water but it is definitely the most technologically advanced and efficient way developed so far.

There has been one huge disabling factor for renewable energy and its proliferation, oil and car companies. For a long time, up to this day in fact, there have been people making prodigious amounts of money securing oil fields (often violently) tapping the resource and shipping them around the world. The amount of money made by a few has turned into real power and who wouldn’t want to protect their business from outside competition?

Many renewable energy ideas were actually purchased by large oil and car manufacturing conglomerates and then buried under piles of oil money, only to resurface when that money dissipates. Their fear is that people can become energy self sufficient, which anyone easily can, and stop paying for their lucrative lifestyles. The beauty of renewable energy is its potential for complete freedom from outside energy providers, something very few people are opposed to.

Green Energy

Green energy is a very broad term. It can be used to describe many different sources and methods of extracting energy sometimes mistakenly. Solar power and wind power are some of the greenest energies that are available today. The most destructive part of both of these energies comes from the production of the materials that are used to make them, silicone for solar panels and metal for wind towers.

New designs and scientific breakthroughs are lowering the impact of both of these technologies making them an even better source of green energy. Solar panels are beginning to be incorporated into different building materials such as glass and metal, even paint and ink has the potential to be a photovoltaic cell. Wind towers are being retrofitted with radars that sense birds and turns off the rotors when a flock migrates through the area. It is estimated this will prevent over 700,000 bird fatalities every year.

Other forms of green energy are water power which uses the movement of waves, tides and currents to produce power. Passively safe nuclear reactors (they can shut down without an operator, preventing meltdowns) are sometimes considered green, but they are still affecting their environment, adding heat to the surrounding air and water sources which can be detrimental to certain types of wildlife.

Clean Energy

Clean energy is very difficult to come by. Many people believe that electricity is clean and that an electric car is better than a gasoline powered one. If the electricity was produced from solar power than yes, it is clean, but most electricity is generated by burning coal or through nuclear power plants. Electricity can actually be worse than a gasoline powered car when produced at an old inefficient coal burning plant.

One of the main problems with clean energy is that it relies on natural sources which are not constant. The sun only shines during the day, and on cloudy days output is greatly impeded. Extreme northern and southern latitudes have even further problems only having sufficient sunlight for half the year. Wind is not constant either with many wind farms sitting idle on calm days.

Because of this natural ebb and flow of clean energy many different sources are still required for constant production of usable power. The combination of wind power, solar power and other sources such as sea power and even nuclear power are ways of overcoming the individual problems of each method for extracting power. Growing food and plants for fuel is proving to be very inefficient and brings with it an even higher cost, hunger.

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy was once considered alongside the fountain of youth, truly great but probably not in existence. This has changed recently as renewable sources of energy are rediscovered and modernized. This is not the first time that wind has been used to create power, or the sun, or water but it is definitely the most technologically advanced and efficient way developed so far.

There has been one huge disabling factor for renewable energy and its proliferation, oil and car companies. For a long time, up to this day in fact, there have been people making prodigious amounts of money securing oil fields (often violently) tapping the resource and shipping them around the world. The amount of money made by a few has turned into real power and who wouldn’t want to protect their business from outside competition?

Many renewable energy ideas were actually purchased by large oil and car manufacturing conglomerates and then buried under piles of oil money, only to resurface when that money dissipates. Their fear is that people can become energy self sufficient, which anyone easily can, and stop paying for their lucrative lifestyles. The beauty of renewable energy is its potential for complete freedom from outside energy providers, something very few people are opposed to.

Solar energy

There are many different types of alternative energy. Solar energy is the most popular form. Wind power is one source that is ever present. In windy areas large fields can be installed with powerful wind turbines that produce electricity as the blades of the windmill turn. They are only useful on windy days, but many areas have consistent enough winds for semi-continuous power.

Solar energy is another alternative. By using photovoltaic cells sunlight can be converted into electricity very easily. The larger and more efficient the panels are and the more sun exposure they get determines the amount of power that can be produced, often much more than is used during the day necessitating the use of batteries for maximum usefulness.

Water power is another form of alternative energy. Waves, tides and currents can be harnessed with underwater farms that are only seen when deep underwater. They can be installed in huge submersed fields, near beaches and shorelines and in ports without interfering with normal enjoyment and commerce. Most alternative forms of energy are clean and renewable and not yet completely understood.

Photovoltaic Energy

Photovoltaic energy is a form solar power. Photovoltaic cells react with photons that are sent from the sun and generate a charge that can easily be converted into usable alternating current electricity. Solar panels are groups of photovoltaic cells linked together to produce more output. They are typically matte black to encourage light absorption which can increase their output as well.

Photovoltaic energy is one of the cleanest ways of producing electricity requiring no moving parts, no transportation of fuels and a good amount of output compared with their cost. The cost of a photovoltaic array is high, but there are many ways to get them at a discount or subsidized by governments and local power companies. Once installed, which is simple as well, they continually work for at least 25 years with simple cleaning and maintenance.

Photovoltaic energy is increasing in efficiency very rapidly while oil and coal have reached their maximum efficiency. To go faster in a gas powered car more fuel is used while to go longer distance without having to constantly refuel dips into the performance of the car. Solar panels are getting more powerful and more efficient which could eventually make a vehicle not only very efficient but as fast as the light that’s powering them, or at least close.

Solar Power

The main way of harnessing solar power is by using photovoltaic cells that convert photons sent millions of miles from the sun into electricity that is instantly usable. As materials improve and become less expensive solar panels become more readily available. The more that are installed the less anyone has to rely on destructive forms of power such as coal and oil fueled power plants and engines.

Another form of harnessing solar power converts the suns energy into hydrogen gas by using tiny particles of titanium dioxide commonly called Titania. This material is used in white paint, toothpastes and many other household items and it may revolutionize solar power. Hydrogen gas can be stored and shipped very easily, unlike electricity which requires complex and expensive batteries that lose their charge over time.

Hydrogen produced from solar power is clean burning and very efficient. Producing it is the difficult part. The more titanium dioxide that can be fit onto the panel the more gas can be produced and nano-technology is providing the engineering prowess to get as much Titania onto the surface as possible. Solar panels in the future might not be producing electricity at all, hydrogen gas has a fighting chance to take the lead as the most efficient way to harness the suns energy.

Wind Energy

Wind energy has been used since the dawn of civilization. The first took the form of sails on boats which were used to travel around the world. No fuel is required on a sailboat, but they were often stranded in the sea on calm days. Even then it was known that the wind was powerful and it could be harnessed for good and bad, but extra wind power could not be preserved.

The next form of harnessing wind energy came with the introduction of windmills. They were constructed on land instead of sea this time, and were used to turn heavy millstones that grind wheat and other grains. Again these only worked on windy days, a mule would have to turn the millstone on calm days. Very windy days could make the millstone turn faster potentially allow more grains to be ground, but energy still could not be preserved.

Wind energy was revived recently because of the high and ever rising costs of fossil fuels. Now it is not directly used to push a boat, or turn a millstone, but to generate electricity. The great advantage that generating electricity has over those older methods is that the power can be preserved and sent across thousands of miles without losing its effectiveness.

Water Energy

There are many ways to get water energy. It has been harnessed for thousands of years in the form of dams and waterwheels that can turn any number of devices from millstones to machinery. It is incredibly efficient and constant when applied in the right way and a large enough space. A small stream may not have enough power of consistent flow to make it worth it, but big rivers can produce huge amounts of power.

Water energy can be harnessed by damming a river and allowing a lake to form. The weight of the water pushes a lot of pressure through giant turbines that spin to create electricity and the water is emitted back into the river, usually much cooler than before because it has come out of the bottom of a big lake and been cooled. The surface water is still just as warm as the river feeding it, and many reservoirs are used for recreation as well.

Other forms of water energy are vortex power which creates a vortex and then harnesses its energy, tidal power which uses the movement of the tides to generate electricity, wave power which collects the energy coming in from waves, marine current power and underwater ocean thermal power which collects heat from deep underwater volcanic vents.