How to Reduce the Ecological Footprint of Wind Turbines

Wind power is the second most widely used renewable energy source in the U.S., just behind hydropower. Unlike solar, wind power creates little to no pollution and requires very little maintenance. However, it has one significant problem — a detrimental effect on wildlife and the local ecosystem.

Industrial wind farms wreak havoc on bird and bat populations, plus they pose an ecological disturbance to the land. While the energy generation is incredibly sustainable, the influence turbines have on local wildlife populations adds controversy to the success of this energy source.

wind-farm-Lake-Turkana-Kenya

The future implementation of wind as a leading source of energy will depend on our ability to reduce its ecological footprint. Employing best practices that work to minimize adverse effects on local habitats will play an integral role in the construction of new farms.

Analyze Data

Determining the exact impact of wind turbines on wildlife is hard to discern. The number of birds and bats killed from direct contact is only one variable. The long-term effects on food chain supplies, population and habitats are hard to quantify. The first step in reducing the environmental impact is determining where the influence is greatest.

Research estimates that in North America alone, wind turbines kill an estimated 140,000 to 328,000 birds each year. This statistic does include other flying creatures, like bats, whose populations have been significantly affected by wind farms.

Bats are essential to the function of our ecosystem and food system. In 2015, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) added guidelines about the voluntary process of halting turbines at lower speeds during periods of the night when these animals are most active. These efforts may reduce deaths by up to 30%, though research demonstrates an extra delay could potentially increase that number to 90%.

Land Use Planning

Close attention to site selection and preparation may curtail the consequences of wind farms on the surrounding environment. Construction is a major ecosystem disruptor, as installing transmission lines and removing soil can hurt plants and animals in the vicinity. Experts encourage many wind companies to engage in erosion control practices, which includes re-establishing native vegetation and other restoration techniques.

Wind farms are generally criticized by their inflexibility when it comes to site location. Compared to solar panels, which can be installed on buildings and utilized across a diverse array of environments, wind farms are more limited. One benefit, however, is that people can establish these turbines on abandoned industrial land. The ability to re-purpose previously degraded land with a renewable energy source is a victory for wildlife and humans alike.

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If the wind is too strong, wind turbines can’t operate safely and must shut down.

A final consideration when it comes to reducing ecological impact includes preventative measures, such as monitoring a habitat before construction. By tracking the environment before breaking ground, builders can better determine the best location for the farm.

Innovative Technology

As wind power becomes a cost-effective and energy-efficient option, advanced technology will lessen the impact of turbines on wildlife. According to U.S Energy Information Administration, the wind industry is collaborating with the U.S government to find optimization solutions.

Several ways exist in which wind farms can reduce their impact on local habitats and take preventative steps affecting animal and bird populations. One example includes Ultrasonic Acoustic Deterrents (UADs), which emit a loud noise that deters bats but is incomprehensible to the human ear.

Other solutions include painting wind turbines purple or shining ultraviolet lights on the structures to alert migratory species. Some manufacturing companies plan to make innovations in how to construct these structures. Changes include alterations to the blade surfaces and more sound-absorbent materials.

A Comprehensive Approach

The cost of wind power has dropped almost 50% in the last four years. With an increased incentive to invest in renewables, experts predict the number of wind farms around the world to grow rapidly in the next decade.

Wind power has many benefits, one of which being that, unlike solar, return on investment for the production and installation of turbines is five to eight months, with each structure designed to produce for at least twenty years. With an increase in implementation, the ecological impact is unavoidable. As a result, the focus will be on reducing the environmental impact of wind turbines, rather than decreasing their utilization as an energy source.

How to Reduce the Establishment Costs of Miscanthus

Miscanthus has been lauded as a dynamic high potential biomass energy crop for some time now due to its high yields, low input requirements and perennial nature. Miscanthus is commonly used as a biomass fuel to produce heat and electricity through combustion, but studies have found that miscanthus can produce similar biogas yields to maize when harvested at certain times of the year.  Miscanthus is a C4 grass closely related to maize and sugarcane, it can grow to heights of three metres in a single growing season.

Miscanthus-Elephant-Grass

High Establishment Costs

However, The high cost of growing miscanthus has impeded its popularity. High establishment costs of miscanthus are as a result of the sterile nature of the crop, which means that miscanthus cannot be propagated from seed and instead must be propagated from vegetative material.

The vegetative material commonly used is taken from the root structure known as rhizomes; rhizome harvesting is a laborious process and when combined with low multiplication rates, results in a high cost for miscanthus rhizomes. The current figure based on Irish figures is €1,900 ha for rhizomes.

Promising Breakthrough

Research conducted in Teagasc Oak Park Carlow Ireland, suggests that there may be a cost effective of method of propagating miscanthus by using the stem as the vegetative material rather than having to dig up expensive rhizomes. The system has been proven in a field setting over two growing seasons and plants have been shown to be perennial.

A prototype miscanthus planter suitable for commercial up scaling has been developed to sow stem segments of miscanthus. Initial costs are predicted at €130 ha for plant material. The image below shows the initial stem that was planted in a field setting and the shoots, roots, and rhizome developed by the stem at the end of the first growing season.

miscanthus-stem

Feedstock for AD Plants

Switching from maize to miscanthus as a feedstock for anaerobic digestion plants would increase profitability and boost the GHG abatement credentials of the systems. Miscanthus is a perennial crop which would provide a harvest every year once established for 20 years in a row without having to be replanted compared to maize which is replanted every year. This would provide an obvious economic saving as well as allowing carbon sequestration in the undisturbed soil.

There would be further GHG savings from the reduced diesel consumption required for the single planting as opposed to carrying out heavy seedbed cultivation each year for maize. Miscanthus harvested as an AD feedstock would also alleviate soil compaction problems associated with maize production through an earlier harvest in more favourable conditions.

Future Perspectives

Miscanthus is a nutrient efficient crop due to nutrient cycling. With the onset of senescence nutrients in the stem are transferred back to the rhizome and over-wintered for the following year’s growth. However the optimum date to harvest biomass to produce biogas is before senescence.

This would mean that a significant proportion of the plants nutrient stores would be removed which would need to be replaced. Fertiliser in the form of digestate generated from a biogas plant could be land spread to bridge nutrient deficiencies. However additional more readily available chemical N fertiliser may have to be applied.

Some work at Oak Park on September harvested miscanthus crops has seen significant responses from a range of N application rates. With dwindling subsidies to support anaerobic digestion finding a low cost perennial high yielding feedstock could be key to ensuring economic viability.

Top 5 Reasons to Use Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is extracted from environmental assets that recharge in less than half of a human lifespan without draining the earth’s resources. Sunlight, wind, rain, oceans, waves, carbon, and thermal energy deposited in the earth’s crust are all commodities that are present in some way or another almost everywhere. Renewable energy is practically inexhaustible. What’s even better is that they don’t have much effect on the economy or the atmosphere.

clean energy in italy

On the other hand, fossil resources such as gasoline, coal, and natural gas are only present in limited amounts. They will eventually run out even if you want to harvest them. Fossil fuels are not replenished as quickly as humans need them to, even though natural methods create them. Currently people have started realizing the necessity of renewable energy usage and want to learn more about its functioning and its benefits. People are opting for different courses on renewable energy to get a step closer towards a greener world. Have a look at Renewable Energy Courses Basildon Essex which has quality courses available at affordable rates.

What are the reasons for using renewable energy?

Both sources of energy affect the climate, much as every other human operation. Renewable energy is no different, and each supply comes with its own set of trade-offs. However, the benefits of renewable energy over fossil fuels are evident. Here are five prominent reasons to use renewable energy in your daily life:

1. Renewable energy is abundant

As the name implies, renewable energy is produced from naturally replenishing sources such as sunlight, air, rain, compost, and even geothermal (buried) energy.

minnesota-solar

Renewables turn natural resources efficiently into energy, unlike oil, coal, and natural gas mines, which involve large networks of heavy equipment, refining facilities, pipes, and distribution. Although certain fossil fuels are getting increasingly difficult and costly to obtain, resulting in the degradation of natural ecosystems and significant financial damages, renewable energy is infinite. 

2. Renewable energy emits little to no pollutants

Increased air emissions are caused by global growth in conventional fuel, required in road transportation, manufacturing activity, electricity production, and outdoor garbage combustion in many regions. The usage of coal and lumber for cooking and heating in many developed countries leads to low indoor air quality. Cities are physically suffocated by contaminants and other air pollution generated by fossil fuels. According to World Health Organization reports, their appearance over metropolitan skies causes millions of early casualties and costs billions of dollars.

Air, thermal, and hydroelectric power emit little to no emissions into the atmosphere. Other alternative power generating techniques, such as biomass and geothermal, release emissions into the atmosphere, albeit at far lower levels than most fossil fuels.

energy-company

Renewable energy follows reuse and recycling goals and is a powerful engine for social and economic development, rather than depleting precious energy and polluting the atmosphere.

3. Renewable energy is cheap

Increased oil costs and insufficient access to capital are often associated with international unrest and uprisings. Since renewable energy is mainly generated locally, it is less impacted by geopolitical conflicts, price rises, or supply chain disturbances.

Using green resources can save you funds in the long run. You can save not only on repairs but also on running expenses. You don’t have to spend money to refuel if you use equipment that produces electricity from solar, wind, steam, or geological activities. The sum of money you save when you use green energy depends on various things, including the system itself. In most situations, switching to green energies results in cost cuts ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollar.

4. Renewable energy creates jobs

The renewable energy sector is more labor-intensive than fossil fuel systems, which are traditionally automated and capital intensive. Humans are required to mount photovoltaic panels, and technicians are required to maintain wind turbines.

electrical-engineering

This implies that more jobs are created on aggregate with each unit of energy produced by renewable energies than from fossil energy.

Thousands of workers are now supported by renewable energies in the United States. In 2016, the wind energy sector employed directly over 100,000 full-time-equivalent workers in processing, project production, design and turbine implementation, administration, and maintenance.

5. Renewable energy is reliable and resilient

Since renewable energy sources are dispersed and flexible, they are less vulnerable to large-scale malfunction. Because distributed grids are spread over a wide geographic area, an extreme weather incident in one place would not result in the loss of control for an entire site. Numerous independent windmills or solar panels make up modular structures. And if any of the system’s machinery is disabled, the remainder usually continues to function.

solar-energy-trends

Solar panels are becoming more accessible, for homeowners and businesses

Hurricane Sandy, for example, wreaked havoc on New York and New Jersey’s fossil-fuel-dominated electric production and delivery grids, knocking out millions of residents. On the other hand, renewable energy facilities in the Northeast escaped Hurricane Sandy with no injury or destruction.

In conclusion

Despite certain uncertainties, it is apparent that renewables can one day provide emission-free electricity to all of our households, industries, and cars.

While no one energy source will ever be able to satisfy all of the human requirements, a mixture of solar, air, biomass, geothermal, tidal, and power storage can fuel the entire planet without emitting any toxins or greenhouse gases.

Opportunities For Foreign Consultants in Africa’s Renewables Industry

Currently, more than 600 million people living in Sub-Saharan Africa, out of a total population of 900 million, do not have access to electricity. Even those with some kind of electrical connection suffer from unreliable supply, lack of sufficient power on the grid, high energy prices, or a combination of these, meaning they lack full access to power.

 

However, the solution is in sight, and it is green. It could be that the majority of the “dark continent” will skip fossil fuel- based energy entirely, and skip straight to renewable energy solutions, from those living in refugee camps, to the cities.

The renewable energy industry in Africa represents great opportunities for many, not only the local populations who will benefit from a stable electricity supply, but also local workers and international consultants whose expertise are greatly needed. Not to mention of course the benefits for the environment.

If you are a foreign consultant looking to work in the renewable energy industry in Africa, here is what you should know.

Opportunities in Renewable Energy Industry in Africa

The renewable energy industry is booming in many African countries, most notably Nigeria. Here, it is hoped that biomass will help to bridge the gap between the current electricity capacity of 12,522MW and demand of 98,000MW. This dramatic shortfall, despite Nigeria being an OPEC nation and the world’s 13th largest producer of oil, certainly shows the need for renewable energy solutions.

Currently, only 1% of Nigeria’s electricity is powered by renewable energy with a small percentage of this being biomass. However, the country’s rich resources in biomass fuels such as agricultural residues and municipal solid waste means that biomass could represent the solution to the country’s energy crisis.

Across the continent, many countries are already implementing small-scale solar, wind and geothermal technology, particularly to provide energy to remote and under-serviced populations. The World Bank is committed to promoting sustainable energy solutions in developing nations, particularly in Africa. From 2014 to 2018, the World Bank funded $11.5 billion worth of renewable energy projects in developing countries. This continues to be a funding priority for the developing world’s largest financier.

Funding from the World Bank and others has led to a variety of renewable energy projects across Africa, which is only set to increase in future years. These projects have an intense need for foreign consultants, due to the demand for expertise outstripping local availability in many cases.

Guide For Working in African Renewable Energy Industry

Working in the renewables sector in Africa offers the opportunity not only to be part of an exciting, booming industry, but also one which has the potential to make a difference to the lives of millions of people. Working in the sector, and in Africa in general, does come with its own unique challenges, however, so it is important to be prepared.

1. Research Local Laws and Regulations

Firstly, it is important to be prepared that working in a new country will mean that many things will be unfamiliar. One of the key differences will be when it comes to laws and regulations. The company or organisation you are working with should be able to advise you on these matters, but it is also a good idea to do your own research ahead of time to get an idea of local regulations, and how these will impact on your work.

wind-farm-Lake-Turkana-Kenya

2. Be Open to Local Customs

A big part of working in another country is adjusting to the local customs. Understanding local culture and traditions will not only help you feel more comfortable, but it will also make you more effective in your work. After you arrive in the field, make it one of your key priorities to absorb as much as you can of the local culture.

Additionally, you should be prepared that infrastructure and logistics may be very different from what you are accustomed to: this can impact on everything from internet connection and availability of supplies to transit times.

3. Make Sure Your Training is Upto Date

Availability of training while on site may be limited, so it is important to make sure your qualifications are up to date and that you have skilled up with all relevant training before you leave home. Consult with a UK-based company such as We Do Training to see what courses are on offer, and what may be helpful for you while in the field.

How to Get the Most Out Of Your Solar Power System

So you made the environmentally and financially sound decision of going off the grid, now what? If you’re wondering how to make the most of converting to the wonderful renewable resource that is solar power then you’ve come to the right place. Solar power is a fantastic and eco-friendly alternative to using fossil-fuel-based electricity but it does take some work to get it running optimally. If you didn’t know this then don’t feel bad, consumerism is largely based on overconsumption and, ultimately, wastage – that is what has been drilled into us over the years. Here are a few tips for getting the most from your new solar power household or workplace.

1. Reduce Your Consumption

It’s no good converting your home or office to solar power if your appliances are electricity guzzlers. Start by replacing the most power-hungry models first, these will be a massive drain on your power supply and that is simply not sustainable when you’re running off of solar power alone.

refrigerator-recycling

An old refrigerator uses almost four times the electricity of a new one

If you can’t replace those older appliances for their newer and more energy-efficient counterparts then you should at least only be using them once a day and one at a time.

2. Replace Obsolete Lighting

Do a lighting audit on your solar-powered home, vacation home or office and replace all of the lights that use the old type of energy-hungry bulbs, or if you can, replace just the bulbs with more energy-efficient ones.

solar-powered-lights

Lighting is one of the biggest contributors to power consumption when the bulbs are all filament globes. Filament globes produce heat as a by-product of creating light and this heat accounts for almost 90% of the total energy wasted by these bulbs. Take advantage of solar incentives in Oregon and get rewarded for living more responsibly.

3. Invest In a Gas Geyser

Your solar power system was not cheap but it will never be able to keep up if it is expected to run your electric water heater all day, every day. Invest in a gas geyser that will not use the stored energy from your solar panels but instead use gas.

The other benefit of gas geysers is they give you instant hot water so you will reduce your water consumption at the same time as reducing your power consumption.

4. Take Advantage of the Daylight

Use appliances that require the most energy during the day when your solar power is in full swing. Stagger the usage of these appliances because if you try and use them all at once they will drain more power than your solar power system is capable of producing because your energy requirements will be too high.

5. Invest In Solar Batteries

Installing solar power is just the first step in investing in a total solar energy system. The best way to make the most of your solar system is to buy solar batteries to go with it. These batteries will maximize your solar consumption by reducing the amount of electricity you will need to purchase from the grid.

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They do this by providing a safe place in which to store the solar energy collected during the day for use later in the evening. Solar batteries are a necessary upgrade for homeowners with solar-powered systems.

6. Cancel Standby Modes

A lot of electrical devices like TVs, laptops and Wi-Fi’s use electricity even when they’re not in use. It might not seem like much at the time but all of that extra power consumption adds up every year and it is completely wasted. You can save on the power drawn from your solar-powered system by unplugging those devices when they are not in use.

The same applies to charging your devices, make the most of the sunlight hours by putting these devices onto charge during the day and unplugging them in the evenings. You can also charge things like power banks during the day so that you can use them to charge your devices at night instead of conventional electricity.

7. Get a Gas Stove

Cooking is one of the biggest power-draining activities around, especially with a fully electric stove and oven. Switch to a gas-powered stove and watch your electricity consumption drastically reduce.

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Gas stoves, like gas water heaters, provide an instantaneous flame, so your pots and pans will heat up so much quicker than a conventional stove. This will save your solar power system from the massive evening drain that comes with making dinner, as well as have your dinner cooked much faster than normal.

Considerations When Buying a Vacation Rental with Solar Panels

It’s possible that one of the properties you’re considering for purchase as a vacation rental will have solar panels already installed. This can be a positive marketing point for your property in today’s increasingly environmentally conscious world.

Installed correctly, solar panels can be aesthetically pleasing. Their presence is also one of the first things people will notice about a property. So, when you get to the stage of when you’re ready to start the financing process of investing in a particular vacation rental property with solar panels, here are a couple of things you’ll need to consider as a part of your vetting process.

vacation rental with solar system

How Were They Financed?

Your first consideration will be how the panels were financed. The easiest scenario is when the owner of the property financed the panels themselves. Solar panels can add a lot of value to the property. Although the value of the panels decreases with the age of the installation, newly installed panels can add up to nearly $30,000 of value to a home.

If possible, see if you can get an idea of what the previous owner’s utilities ran prior to installation of the panels, and after. This will give you concrete information about how much the panels are saving on the electric bills.

What is the Size of the System?

You’ll also want to have an inspector give you an idea of the size of the solar system. If the previous tenants worked from home and had several family members, the installation is probably more than adequate for a vacation rental property. A smaller system for one or two people might need enhancements. Lower utility bills will allow you to charge less for your property.

What if the Panels were Leased?

Sometimes the property owner doesn’t have the money upfront to pay for the panels, so they finance them by leasing. This situation is not necessarily something that should cause you to automatically pass on the property. It’s important to find out the age of the lease. It’s possible the finance period is almost over. In this case, the cost of taking over the lease will be minimal.

There are a couple of points open for negotiation here. You can work with the finance company to see if you can reduce the amount remaining on the lease. Or you could have the remaining amount on the lease included in the selling price. The cost of solar panels is expected to go down by as much as a third by 2024, so the amounts under consideration can be expected to be less as time goes on.

Have the Panels Inspected

As in any potential property purchase, having the panels inspected prior to signing on the dotted line is mandatory. You’ll want to get an overhead inspection of the panels, which can be done by drone. Make sure the drone has a thermal camera to check for an initial check for defects.

You’ll want to perform the solar panel inspection on a sunny day. This way any defects, such as hot spots, will be more easily detected. The optimum time for such inspections is in the morning or late afternoon, to reduce glare off of the panels. If the sun is directly overhead, you may get too much glare off them and the inspection won’t be able to show you anything.

If possible, do a second drone inspection with an RGB (visible light)  camera. This inspection will turn up the presence of debris on the panels. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It can simply mean that the panels are due for a cleaning, something that hopefully has been a part of the regular maintenance of the panels.

Is There Enough Sunlight?

Another aspect of existing solar panels to consider is whether there is adequate sunlight to support them. If the panels were installed in an area shaded by trees, you not only may not be getting the full benefits of them but may have more cleaning costs associated with them.

If they are shaded because of geographical features on the property, you also may not get the full benefit of the panels.

Previously installed solar panels are not necessarily a negative when considering investing in that property as a vacation rental. They can be a great marketing point for your property as well as aesthetically pleasing. Just be sure to look into how they were financed, and get them inspected for general condition. This will ensure the panels are in good working order prior to you taking over the property.

Renewables Market in MENA

MENA region has an attractive market for renewables due to abundant availability of solar and wind resources. According to a recent IRENA report, the region is anticipating renewable energy investment of $35 billion per year by 2020. Recently, the MENA region has received some of the lowest renewable energy prices awarded globally for solar PV and wind energy.

mena-renewables

Regional Developments

Among MENA countries, Morocco has emerged as a role model for the entire region. The government’s target of 2GW of solar and 2GW of wind power by 2020 is progressing smoothly with the commissioning of Nour-1 Solar project. Jordan and Egypt are also making steady progress in renewable energy sector.

As far as GCC is concerned, the UAE has also shown serious commitment to develop solar energy. The 100MW Shams CSP plant has been operational since 2014 in Abu Dhabi while 13MW Phase I of Dubai’s solar park was completed in 2013. In Saudi Arabia, the newly launched Vision 2030 document has put forward a strong regulatory and investment framework to develop Saudi clean energy sector which should catalyse renewable energy development in the country.

Renewables – A boon for MENA

Renewable energy has multiple advantages for MENA in the form of energy security, improved air quality, reduced GHG emissions, employment opportunities, apart from augmenting water and food security.

The business case for renewable energy proliferation in MENA is strengthened by plentiful availability of natural energy resources and tumbling solar PV technology costs which are leading to record low renewable power generation costs. The recent auction for the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park 2 in Dubai yielded prices as low as 5.85 US cents per kWh which is one of the lowest worldwide.

Impact of Falling Costs

The falling costs will have a significant positive impact in the developing world where tens of millions of people still lack access to cheap and reliable supply of energy. Reducing costs will help MENA, especially GCC, to meet its target of steady transition towards renewable energy and thus reducing dependence on fossil fuels for power generation and seawater desalination.

The slump in renewable energy tariffs will also encourage utility companies in emerging markets to include more renewable energy in transmission and meet the targets set by respective countries. However, it should also be noted that there have been several instances where the actual renewable energy production failed to take place because of low bids.

Emerging Trends

Off-grid renewable energy technologies have tremendous potential to popularize clean energy among remote and marginalized communities across the world. Access to clean, reliable and relatively cheap energy from renewable resources, especially solar power, will usher in a new era in developing countries. Off-grid (or standalone) renewable power systems are already making a meaningful difference in the lives of millions of people across the developing world.

In recent years, Morocco has made remarkably swift progress in renewable energy sector.

In recent years, Morocco has made remarkably swift progress in renewable energy sector.

Advancements in battery energy storage have pushed this particular sector into media as well as public spotlight. With big industry names like Tesla and Nissan leading from the front, energy storage technologies are expected to make great contribution in transition to green grid powered by intermittent energy sources like solar PV, CSP, wind and biomass.

Concentrated solar power (CSP) has the potential to transform seawater desalination industry, one of the largest energy consumers in the Middle East. CSP offers an attractive option to power industrial-scale desalination plants that require both high temperature fluids and electricity.  CSP can provide stable energy supply for continuous operation of desalination plants, based on thermal or membrane processes. Leading CSP technology companies are already taking a keen interest in Middle East CSP market and rapid developments are expected in the coming years.

Key Hurdles to Overcome

Lack of strong regulatory framework, low renewable energy tariffs and weak off-take mechanisms are some of the issues confronting renewable energy projects in MENA. Regulatory framework in the GCC is in early stages and marred by heavy subsidy for oil and gas. The largest barrier to growth of solar sector in MENA has been the lack of renewable energy policy framework, legislations, institutional support, feed-in-tariffs and grid access.

The power sector in MENA is, by and large, dominated by state utilities which discourage entrepreneurs and Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to enter the local markets. Lack of open and transparent market conditions in MENA are acting as deterrent for investors, technology companies and project developers.

Among regional countries, Jordan and Morocco have the most advanced legal infrastructure in place to support renewable energy projects, followed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Tips for New Entrants

MENA solar market is complex due to different electricity market structure and myriad challenges in each country. Different countries have different motivations for renewable energy. Solar companies who want to foray in MENA market must give special attention to land access, grid access, transparent licensing schemes, high-quality meteorological data, creditworthy customers, long-term off-take contracts, soiling of PV panels and related issues.

A Complete Guide To Setting Up A Solar Power System In Your Home

Using solar energy systems for power isn’t exactly a new concept by now. It lets people cut down on electricity costs, and its renewability makes it more eco-friendly.

Solar power works by capturing sunlight through mirrors, lenses, and photovoltaic panels. The concentrated energy gets converted into a current, which is then stored in batters for later use. You can use that to supply power during certain times of the day or a whole day, when it’s dark, or when you can’t use your current power system. For this reason, it’s quite accessible as a source of power, especially in underserviced areas.

how to set up a solar power system at home

Although it has these benefits, the rate of people adopting it for their households is still quite low. For one thing, solar panels require some considerable investment for buying and maintenance. And, of course, there’s the claim that other energy producers are trying to curb its usage to keep themselves in operation.

Nevertheless, people nowadays have more opportunities to switch to solar power thanks to advancements in photovoltaic technology. If you’re interested in experiencing the benefits of this renewable energy source first-hand, look up reliable solar power system installers like Impact Energy Solar In Colorado and similar providers in your area to ask questions and get started.

But before you get ahead of yourself, you should know that switching to solar energy takes a few key steps. Preparing your household for installation is one of them. Fortunately, it’s not as complicated as it may seem. Here’s what homeowners like you should do to set up a solar power system at home.

1. Calculate Your Household’s Approximate Energy Consumption

Before installing solar panels, assessing and knowing your energy needs is essential. You can do this by summing up all the power that your home requires.

A common way to go about this is to look at your monthly electric bills for a whole year first. List down the total number of watts you consume. Then, you get the average. While it may not represent exactly how much energy you use, it should put you in a safe range for how much you’ll need to keep your daily routines.

You can also make a list of the appliances you use daily. These may include:

  • Clothes irons
  • Refrigerators
  • Washers and dryers
  • Fans
  • Lights
  • Televisions
  • Microwaves
  • Electric cookers
  • Desktop and laptop computers
  • Heaters

You might add more to the list depending on what you have in your home. Once you have everything down, the next step is to add the approximate time you use them daily and their power rating.

Then, you calculate the watts per hour. Multiply each appliance’s power rating by its run time. After doing this for every device and appliance, you can add all the individual figures to get the overall ‘watt-hour.’ This figure helps you determine the size of the solar power unit you need to keep everything running in your household.

As a rule, the size of the system and your estimated consumption are directly proportional. The greater your energy needs, the bigger the solar power system you have to get. So, make sure you have this down to make your search for the ideal system much easier.

2. Check If You Have All The Components That Make Up The Solar Power System

The second step to setting up a solar energy system is gathering all the parts of the power unit. Regular ones usually include the following components:

  • Solar panels
  • Inverter
  • Charge Controller
  • Battery Pack
  • Fuses
  • Meter
  • Breaker
  • MC4 connector
  • Electrical safety equipment, like surge protectors

When buying these parts, make sure they’re compatible with one another and suit your installation needs.

Once you’ve purchased and confirmed that you have all the necessary parts, read through your user manual and module instructions that come with the solar power system unit. Take your time to understand the instructions.

different surveys when building a new home

3. Find The Ideal Location To Set Up Your Solar Panels

While it’s true that most people install solar panels on their rooftops, it’s not mandatory. There are other factors to consider before deciding where to set up your system.

The first thing to keep in mind is that the panels must have full access to sunlight. So, avoid placing them somewhere on the roof surrounded by tall trees. These can cast shadows on the solar panels, affecting their ability to capture as much light as possible. Also, their twigs, leaves, and other detritus may cover the surfaces of the panels, making them even less efficient. Other tall structures around your home do the same thing, as well.

With this understanding, always make sure you place your panels at a location and position primed for maximum exposure. If you can’t find a good enough space on your rooftop, the ground is always a good option. Just keep it protected from foot traffic or debris by putting up a fence.

There are also more creative ways to put up the panels. For those, consider working with a professional solar power installer to get the best advice on what to do.

4. Make Stands For The Battery And Inverter

Depending on the layout, it’s a good idea to have stands for the inverter and battery; otherwise, the setup may look flimsy and incomplete. You can either make one from scratch or purchase a completed stand, preferably from the same set as the components you bought.

Before getting the stands, you should first know where you’re going to place the inverter and battery. They should have enough space for the stands you’ll purchase. Once you got that down, you’re ready for the next step of the setup.

5. Set Up Your Battery

Speaking of which, you should place the battery in its rightful position according to your layout.

You’ll also need a power controller to monitor how your battery is charging. This small device has a LED light that acts as a signal to indicate the battery’s current status. Aside from that, it controls the power the battery receives and adjusts it if necessary.

 

The battery serves as the conduit for storing the power solar panels generate throughout the day. Whenever you need solar power, you simply channel the battery to discharge the energy it collected.

It’s crucial to have a battery with optimum storage to have a steady energy supply and to run your electrical appliances normally when there’s no sunlight.

6. Then, Place The Inverter

Solar panels produce electricity in the form of direct current (DC). However, electrical appliances can only use power alternating current (AC). Instead of using adapters when running your devices, inverters simplify the task by converting DC to AC.

Much like the inverter, you also need to set up the inverter correctly. They can also come in different power capacities. So, it’s important to get one that matches the needs of your household.

Note that not all inverters work for every device or appliance in your home. Check out your user’s manual or talk to an expert if you need to learn more about this.

7. Put Up The Solar Panels

Once all the other components are set, you can get to mounting the solar panels at the best spot. Again, you must place them somewhere with the optimal exposure. A professional can help you find that position and even help you with the placement. Ensure that your mounting stand is the same as the location’s latitude angle for maximum energy efficiency.

solar-battery

8. Work On Wiring The Components

You start by connecting the battery to the inverter. Next, wire the charge controller to the solar panels. Then, you connect the direct current load with the solar charge controller.

When connecting the charge controller and solar panel, it’s best to use an MC4 connector to get better results, especially if the panels are large. Once you connect the charge controller to the battery, you should see the LED lights lighting up.

If you are wiring smaller solar panels, try tracing a junction box at the back with a positive and negative terminal. Use the red wire for the former and the black one for the latter to connect everything.

After everything is put in place, give the solar power system a test run. The battery should start charging within a few moments. Then, pause and check if any problems pop up, like overheating, smoke, or odd smells. If everything goes without a hitch, you can now enjoy your new source of energy.

As you’ve seen throughout the article, the whole process is best done with the help of a professional solar panel installation crew. Don’t hesitate to look up the best ones in your area.

Time For You To Go Solar

Due to its many benefits for your budget and the environment in the long run, relying on solar energy may be one of the best investments you make. This guide should give you a good idea of how to properly set up a system. Of course, you should turn to professionals to make sure you did everything right. Here’s to more sustainable homes.

Biomass Energy in Nigeria: An Overview

Oil and gas accounts for over 70% of energy consumed in Nigeria, according to the World Bank. Considering this dependency on fossil oil and possibility of it running out in the future, there should be an urgent intervention to look into other ways to generate energy in Nigeria. The world is moving away gradually from fossil oil and aligning towards sustainable energy resources to substitute conventional fuel, Nigeria should not be exempted from this movement. Biomass, a popular form of renewable energy, is considered as a credible and green alternative source of energy which many developed and developing countries have been maximizing to its potential.

biomass-sustainability

Power generation and supply have been inadequate in Nigeria. This inadequacy of power limits human, commercial and industrial productivity and economic growth . What is the use of infrastructure without constant electricity? Even God created light first. Sustainable and constant supply of power should be one of the priority of government in nation development. Investing in biomass energy will cause an increase in the amount of power generated in Nigeria. Infact, biomass energy has the potential to resolve the energy crisis in the country in the not so distant future.

What is Biomass

The word biomass refers to organic matter (mainly plants) which acts as a source of sustainable and renewable energy. It is a renewable energy source because the plants can be replaced as oppose to the conventional fossil fuel which is not renewable. Biomass energy is a transferred energy from the sun; plants derives energy from the sun through photosynthesis which is further transferred through the food chain to animals’ bodies and their waste.

Biomass has the potential to provide an affordable and sustainable source of energy, while at the same time help in curbing the green house effect. In India the total biomass generation capacity is 8,700 MW according to U.S. of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, whereas the generating capacity in U.S. is 20,156  MW with 178 biomass power plants, according to Biomass Magazine.

Power Sector in Nigeria

Unfortunately, the total installed electricity capacity generated in Nigeria is 12,522 MW, well below the current demand of 98,000MW . The actual output is about 3,800MW, resulting in a demand shortfall of 94,500MW throughout the country. As a result of this wide gap between demand and output, only 45% of Nigeria’s population has access to electricity. Renewable energy contributed 19% of total electricity generated in Nigeria out of which biomass contribution is infinitesimal.

Electricity generation for Nigeria’s grid is largely dominated by two sources; non-renewable thermal (natural gas and coal) and renewable (hydro). Nigeria depends on non-renewable energy despite its vast potential in renewable sources such as solar, wind, biomass and hydro. The total potential of these renewables is estimated at over 68,000MW, which is more than five times the current power output.

Biomass Resources in Nigeria

Biomass can come in different forms like wood and wood waste, agriculture produce and waste, solid waste.

1. Wood

Electricity can be generated with wood and wood product/waste(like sawdust) in modern day through cogeneration, gasification or pyrolysis.

2. Agriculture Residues

In Nigeria, agricultural residues are highly important sources of biomass fuels for both the domestic and industrial sectors. Availability of primary residues for energy application is usually low since collection is difficult and they have other uses as fertilizer, animal feed etc.

However secondary residues are usually available in relatively large quantities at the processing site and may be used as captive energy source for the same processing plant involving minimal transportation and handling cost.

3. Municipal Solid Waste

Back then in secondary school, I learnt that gas could be tapped from septic tank which could further be used for cooking.  Any organic waste (like animal waste, human waste) when decomposed by anaerobic microorganisms releases biogas which can be tapped and stored for either cooking or to generate electricity.

Biomass can be used to provide heat and electricity as well as biofuel and biogas for transport. There are enough biomass capacity to meet our demand for electricity and other purposes. From climatic point of view, there is a warm climate in Nigeria which is a good breeding ground for bacteria to grow and decompose the wastes. There are plant and animal growth all year round which in turn create waste and consequently produce biomass.

In November 2016, The Ebonyi State Government  took over  the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) demonstration biomass gasifier power plant located at the UNIDO Mini -industrial cluster in Ekwashi Ngbo in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of the State. The power plant is to generate 5.5 Megawatt energy using rice husk and other available waste materials available. More of these type of power plants and commitment are needed to utilize the potential of biomass fully.

Why Biomass Energy?

Since biomass makes use of waste to supply energy, it helps in waste management. It also has the potential to supply more energy (10 times) than the one produced from sun and wind. Biomass energy in Nigeria will lead to increase in revenue generation and conserves our foreign exchange. Increase in energy generation will yield more productivity for industries and the rate at which they are shutting down due to the fact that they spend more on power will be reduced to minimal.

Many local factories/companies will spring up and foreign investors will be eager to invest in Nigeria with little concern about power. Establishment of biopower plants will surely create more jobs and indirectly reduce the number of people living in poverty which is increasing everyday at an alarming rate.

Africa’s most populous country needs more than 10 times its current electricity output to guarantee supply for its 198 million people – nearly half of whom have no access at all, according to power minister Babatunde Fashola. Biomass energy potential in Nigeria is promising –  with heavy investment, stake holder cooperation and development of indigenous technologies. The deployment of large-scale biomass energy systems will not only significantly increase Nigeria’s electricity capacity but also ease power shortages in the country.

Why Energy Access to Refugees Matters?

There is a strong link between the serious humanitarian situation of refugees and lack of access to sustainable energy resources. According to a 2019 UNCHR report, there are more than 80 million displaced people around the world, the highest level of human displacement ever documented. Access to clean and affordable energy is a prerequisite for sustainable development of mankind, and refugees are no exception. Needless to say, almost all refugee camps are plagued by fuel poverty and urgent measure are required to make camps livable.

refugee-camp-energy

Usually the tragedy of displaced people doesn’t end at the refugee camp, rather it is a continuous exercise where securing clean, affordable and sustainable energy is a major concern. Although humanitarian agencies are providing food like grains, rice and wheat; yet food must be cooked before serving.

Severe lack of modern cook stoves and access to clean fuel is a daily struggle for displaced people around the world. This article will shed some light on the current situation of energy access challenges being faced by displaced people in refugee camps.

Why Energy Access Matters?

Energy is the lifeline of our modern society and an enabler for economic development and advancement. Without safe and reliable access to energy, it is really difficult to meet basic human needs.

Energy access is a challenge that touches every aspect of the lives of refugees and negatively impacts health, limits educational and economic opportunities, degrades the environment and promotes gender discrimination issues. Lack of energy access in refugee camps areas leads to energy poverty and worsen humanitarian conditions for vulnerable communities and groups.

Energy Access for Cooking

Refugee camps receive food aid from humanitarian agencies yet this food needs to be cooked before consumption. Thus, displaced people especially women and children take the responsibility of collecting firewood, biomass from areas around the camp. However, this expose women and minors to threats like sexual harassments, danger, death and children miss their opportunity for education. Moreover, depleting woods resources cause environmental degradation and spread deforestation which contributes to climate change. Moreover, cooking with wood affects the health of displaced people.

Access to efficient and modern cook stove is a primary solution to prevent health risks, save time and money, reduce human labour and combat climate change. However, humanitarian agencies and host countries can aid camp refugees in providing clean fuel for cooking because displaced people usually live below poverty level and often host countries can’t afford connecting the camp to the main grid.

So, the issue of energy access is a challenge that requires immediate and practical solutions. A transition to sustainable energy is an advantage that will help displaced people, host countries and the environment.

Energy Access for Lighting

Lighting is considered as a major concern among refugees in their temporary homes or camps. In the camps life almost stops completely after sunset which delays activities, work and studying only during day time hours.

Talking about two vulnerable groups in the refugees’ camps “women and children” for example, children’s right of education is reduced as they have fewer time to study and do homework. For women and girls, not having light means that they are subject to sexual violence and kidnapped especially when they go to public restrooms or collect fire woods away from their accommodations.

Rationale For Sustainable Solutions

Temporary solutions won’t yield results for displaced people as their reallocation, often described as “temporary”, often exceeds 20 years. Sustainable energy access for refugees is the answer to alleviate their dire humanitarian situation. It will have huge positive impacts on displaced people’s lives and well-being, preserve the environment and support host communities in saving fuel costs.

Also, humanitarian agencies should work away a way from business as usual approach in providing aid, to be more innovative and work for practical sustainable solutions when tackling energy access challenge for refugee camps.

UN SDG 7 – Energy Access

The new UN SDG7 aims to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”. SDG 7 is a powerful tool to ensure that displaced people are not left behind when it comes to energy access rights. SDG7 implies on four dimensions: affordability, reliability, sustainability and modernity. They support and complete the aim of SDG7 to bring energy and lightening to empower all human around the world.

All the four dimensions of the SDG7 are the day to day challenges facing displaced people. The lack of modern fuels and heavy reliance on primitive sources, such as wood and animal dung leads to indoor air pollution.

Energy access touches every aspect of life in refugee camps

Energy access touches every aspect of life in refugee camps

For millions of people worldwide, life in refugee camps is a stark reality. Affordability is of concern for displaced people as most people flee their home countries with minimum possessions and belongings so they rely on host countries and international humanitarian agencies on providing subsidized fuel for cooking and lightening.

In some places, host countries are itself on a natural resources stress to provide electricity for people and refugees are left behind with no energy access resources. However, affordability is of no use if the energy provision is not reliable (means energy supply is intermittent).

Parting Shot

Displaced people need a steady supply of energy for their sustenance and economic development. As for the sustainability provision, energy should produce a consistent stream of power to satisfy basic needs of the displaced people.

The sustained power stream should be greater than the resulted waste and pollution which means that upgrading the primitive fuel sources used inside the camp area to the one of modern energy sources like solar energy, wind power, biogas and other off-grid technologies.

For more insights please also read this article Renewable Energy in Refugee Camps