Alternative Sources of Electricity Generation

  • By: Jane
  • Date: August 10, 2022
  • Time to read: 4 min.

Renewable energy sources like wind, solar-thermal, and photovoltaics are available to generate electricity. These sources are also beneficial in conserving water and reducing CO2 emissions. There are several advantages of using these types of power.

This type of electricity can be generated in any location. These sources are considered as green energy because they help save water and are free of pollution. But before you start using renewable energy sources, here are some facts you should know.

Bioenergy Power Plants

Bioenergy power plants generate electricity using wood refuse, spent pulping liquor, landfill gas, and organic municipal solid waste.

Bioenergy Power Plants

Wood refuse, landfill gas, and organic municipal solid waste are all useful sources of biomass. The biomass used in bioenergy power plants is usually wood, including round, limb, and forestry waste. This waste is also used in energy recovery systems to produce electricity. Other biomass fuels may include charcoal, spent pulping liquor, landfill gas, and waste from chemical and pulping mills.

Coal is a nonrenewable resource consisting of combustible black sedimentary rock with a high carbon and hydrogen content. Coal forms by heating layers of dirt and combining it with pressure and heat. Depending on the biomass fuel, there may be a greater potential for hydrogen to be used as a vehicle fuel.

Wind Power Harvests the Energy of The Sun

The amount of wind energy a turbine can harvest depends on air density, wind speed, and blade radius. In theory, the larger the wind speed, the more electricity a turbine can generate. The higher the wind speed, the faster the turbine blades can turn, which translates into more electrical and mechanical power. To be effective, wind turbines need regular high winds of between four and 25 m/s.

Wind Power Harvests the Energy of The Sun

A solar concentrator, such as a parabolic mirror trough oriented north-south, produces electricity from solar energy. The focal point of this solar concentrator converts solar radiation into heat. The fluid can reach 700 degrees Celsius, which transfers to a secondary circuit, which uses steam to drive a conventional turbine and generator. These solar concentrator modules require large areas of land and sophisticated engineering.

Photovoltaic Systems

To generate electricity from photovoltaic panels, the sun’s rays must be absorbed by the panels. In solar cells, this energy is transformed into electrons. Inverters and transformers convert direct electrical current from the panels to alternating current. Then, the energy produced by these systems is harnessed by an external circuit. Photovoltaic systems have a huge potential as alternative sources of electricity generation.

The sun’s irradiance is higher at northern latitudes, during summer and clear air, and when there is less shading. In shady locations, the power output of a photovoltaic system decreases. However, it is still possible to generate electricity using photovoltaic cells despite cloudy conditions, albeit at a lower output. The area required for one kWp is five to seventeen square meters.

Solar-Thermal Power

A solar thermal power station uses heat produced by the sun to generate electricity. It is a relatively new technology, and many companies are already investing in several forms of solar power. Solar thermal power plants generally have several different components and are typically comprised of a field of solar collectors. These collectors collect the sunlight that falls on them and transfers it to a turbine or generator.

In addition to supplying electricity, solar thermal power plants use a much smaller footprint than hydroelectric dams and do not require installing coal mining or other land resources. They can be built even in arid deserts without sacrificing the quality of the landscape. The advantages of solar thermal power outweigh the disadvantages. It costs about 15-17 cents per kilowatt hour compared to below 10 cents for conventionally generated electricity. As technology advances, solar thermal power plants could be built with larger heat storage capabilities. A recent study suggested that solar thermal power could be produced at less than six cents per kilowatt hour by 2050.

Biomass

Biomass is a widely used resource for energy production. It can be obtained from various sources, including agricultural waste, wood, and landfill gas. Biomass resources can vary in availability, costs, and other properties and may require specific management practices. Biomass resources can be processed into energy in different ways, including liquefaction and distillation, which makes them a viable option for electricity generation. This process is also known as bio gasification.

Although the biomass feedstocks used in biomass production are renewable, they can become non-renewable. For example, forests take hundreds of years to regenerate, while peat can regenerate within 900 years. Moreover, most biomass sources require arable land to be developed. As a result, these sources of electricity do not grow on land that can otherwise be used for food production or for natural habitats. Consequently, they can be uneconomical.

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