The Earth receives vast amounts of energy from the sun that can be captured in various forms. Solar technologies directly convert this energy to electricity, while wind, hydro and bioenergy technologies do so indirectly. Energy from the sun is limitless for many generations to come; hence it is referred to as “Renewable Energy”.
1.6MW Solar PV Installation at Google’s corporate headquarters.
Complements of Suntech Power Systems.
There are two primary classes of solar technologies for generation of electricity, Solar Photovoltaic (Solar PV) and Concentrated Solar Power (CSP).
Solar PV systems produce electricity directly from sunlight, typically using crystalline silicon semiconductors or thin-film cells based on cadmium telluride or other materials. Crystalline silicon is used extensively in rooftop systems, while thin-film is almost exclusively used in utility-scale power systems. A critical component in these systems is the type of power conversion system used. The power conversion technology deployed has a significant impact on safety, energy production and reliability. vZenergy is a globally recognized expert in power conversion systems, and provides unique insights to its clients on how to maximize project performance.
Concentrated Solar Power utilizes reflectors or lenses to focus the sun's rays on a small area. The resulting heat is used to drive steam turbines or sterling engines, which in turn drive generators producing electricity. CSP systems are typically found in utility-scale power systems in the lower latitudes.
Civilizations have been harvesting energy from the wind for centuries, to grind grain and pump water. Today, modern wind turbines are efficient electricity generators using state-of-the-art technology, and continue to be perfected to maximize the amount of energy harvested from the wind, improve reliability and lower maintenance and capital cost.
Wind turbines are constructed from light-weight and resilient composite materials and are equipped with sensors that anticipate wind speed and direction changes, altering their yaw, pitch, and speed for optimum power output.
Standing on towers a hundred meters high in either urban centers, open country or the open sea, wind turbines can produce more than three (3) megawatts of power per turbine.
Like wind, civilizations have been harvesting energy from river falls for centuries. Today hydro power is primarily derived from waterfalls alone, but increasingly hydro power is also being generated from waves, ocean currents, tides and the flow of rivers (referred to as “run-of-river”). A number of designs to harvest these various new forms of hydro energy are still in their infancy, but commercial projects are being implemented.
Using biomass as fuel is one of the oldest examples of renewable energy, initiated when our ancestors burned wood for heat, light, and cooking. The technology has come a long way with sources for biomass feedstock ranging from municipal solid waste and forestry residue to food crops such as corn and sugarcane, and dedicated energy crops like switch-grass and ecowillow. Rather than just burning the fuel, the biomass is converted to a gas or biofuel using enzymatic, bacteriological, and chemical agents. The Biogas or Biofuel is then converted to mechanical power to propel vehicles or produce electricity.
Each renewable energy technology has its own set of nuances, and vZenergy will provide you with insights to successfully account for these nuances in your power plant design to maximize economic returns.
"The European Photovoltaic Technology Platform estimates that the PV industry has the potential to create more than 200,000 jobs in the European Union by 2020 and ten times this number worldwide."
- European Photovoltaic Industry Association
"Wind power is one of the fastest growing forms of new electricity generation in the U.S. In recent years, around 40% of all new generation capacity added to the electric grid in the U.S. was from wind power projects."
- American Wind Energy Association
UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, "close to 80 percent of the world's energy supply could be met by renewables by mid-century: http://srren.ipcc-wg3.de/press
US Department of Energy (DOE), Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE):