Solar Energy Prospects in Oman

Even the fleetest of glances at global solar energy map shows Oman to be well placed to exploit the energy-giving rays of the sun. In fact, over the last few years, a gaggle of reports have been published extolling the virtues of exploiting this renewable energy source. However, with increasing and more urbanised populations consuming greater and greater amounts of energy, only now are governments across the Gulf and wider MENA regions seriously looking at harnessing solar power to help fill potential energy deficits.

Sealing and mounting application of epoxy resins increase the environmental tolerance of the solar equipment

Mr Jigar Shah, quoted in a recent article, said investors were “desperate to invest in the Middle East solar industry” and were waiting for clear instructions from the governments in the region. He said, “The economics of switching to solar energy are far better here than in South Africa, India, Brazil, China and the US. Now that the costs of developing solar technologies have significantly declined, it is time for the Middle East to turn talk into action.”

That there is huge potential in the solar industry was underlined in no uncertain terms by the announcement last year of a $2 billion project to develop solar power projects in Oman. The plans also envisage creating industrial plants for the manufacture of solar panels and aluminium frames, to be used by the power station and also for local consumption and export.

Knowledge and technology transfer were also critical contributors to the success of the project which also aimed to tie-up with major international technology companies and international universities with expertise in renewable energy education, to help train the local population in servicing this burgeoning industry.

David Heimhofer, Chairman of Terra Nex Group and Managing Director of Middle East Best Select Fund, said, “By attracting foreign direct investment in the growing renewable energy sector and using German expertise, Oman will become not just a regional leader in the field, but also benefit from the great intrinsic value within the complete value chain associated with this economic sector. He says“In addition to generating new jobs for the Omani people and boosting exports, this project creates an entire industry that Oman can be proud of.”

The project is expected to deliver more than 2000 jobs for Omanis across a diverse range of industrial sectors and services. In order to increase the skill set of the local population to help service these new jobs, the University of Zurich proposed the setting up of an educational institution in the Sultanate specialising in the field of renewable energy engineering.

The Impact of Machine Learning on Renewable Energy

Machine learning, as well as its endgame, artificial intelligence, is proving its value in a wide variety of industries. Renewable energy is yet another sector that can benefit from machine learning’s smart data analysis, pattern recognition and other abilities. Here’s a look at why the two are a perfect match.

Predicting and Fine-Tuning Energy Production

One of the biggest misconceptions about solar power is that it’s only realistic in parts of the world known for year-round heat and intense sunshine. According to Google, around 80% of rooftops they’ve analyzed through their Sunroof mapping system “are technically viable for solar.” They define “viable” as having “enough unshaded area for solar panels.”

Even with this widespread viability, it’s useful to be able to predict and model the energy yield of a renewable energy project before work begins. This is where machine learning enters the equation.

Based on the season and time of day, machine learning can produce realistic and useful predictions for when a residence or building will be able to generate power and when it will have to draw power from the grid. This may prove even more useful over time as a budgeting tool as accuracy improves further. IBM says their forecasting system, powered by deep learning, can predict solar and wind yield up to 30 days in advance.

Machine learning also helps in the creation of solar installations with physical tracking systems, which intelligently follow the sun and angle the solar panels in order to maximize the amount of power they generate throughout the day.

Balancing the Smart Energy Grid

Predicting production is the first step in realizing other advantages of machine learning in clean energy. Next comes the construction of smart grids. A smart grid is a power delivery network that:

  • Is fully automated and requires little human intervention over time
  • Monitors the energy generation of every node and the flow of power to each client
  • Provides two-way energy and data mobility between energy producers and clients

A smart grid isn’t a “nice to have” — it’s necessary. The “traditional” approach to building energy grids doesn’t take into account the diversification of modern energy generation sources, including geothermal, wind, solar and hydroelectric. Tomorrow’s electric grid will feature thousands and millions of individual energy-generating nodes like solar-equipped homes and buildings. It will also, at least for a while, contain coal and natural gas power plants and homes powered by heating oil.

Machine learning provides an “intelligence” to sit at the heart of this diversified energy grid to balance supply and demand. In a smart grid, each energy producer and client is a node in the network, and each one produces a wealth of data that can help the entire system work together more harmoniously.

Together with energy yield predictions, machine learning can determine:

  • Where energy is needed most and where it is not
  • Where supply is booming and where it’s likely to fall short
  • Where blackouts are happening and where they are likely
  • When to supplement supplies by activating additional energy-generating infrastructure

Putting machine learning in the mix can also yield insights and actionable takeaways based on a client’s energy usage. Advanced metering tools help pinpoint which processes or appliances are drawing more power than they should. This helps energy clients make equipment upgrades and other changes to improve their own energy efficiency and further balance demand across the grid.

Automating Commercial and Residential Systems

The ability to re-balance the energy grid and respond more quickly to blackouts cannot be undersold. But machine learning is an ideal companion to renewable energy on the individual level as well. Machine learning is the underlying technology behind smart thermostats and automated climate control and lighting systems.

Achieving a sustainable future means we have to electrify everything and cut the fossil fuels cord once and for all. Electrifying everything means we need to make renewable energy products more accessible. More accessible renewable energy products means we need to make commercial and residential locations more energy-efficient than ever.

Machine learning gives us thermostats, lighting, and other products that learn from user preferences and patterns and fine-tune their own operation automatically. Smart home and automation products like these might seem like gimmicks at first, but they’re actually an incredibly important part of our renewable future. They help ensure we’re not burning through our generated power, renewable or otherwise, when we don’t need to be.

Bottom Line

To summarize all this, machine learning offers a way to analyze and draw actionable conclusions from energy sector data. It brings other gifts, too. Inspections powered by machine learning are substantially more accurate than inspections performed by hand, which is critical for timely maintenance and avoiding downtime at power-generating facilities.

Machine learning also helps us predict and identify factors that could result in blackouts and respond more quickly (and with pinpoint accuracy) to storm damage.

Given that the demand for energy is only expected to rise across the globe in the coming years, now is an ideal time to use every tool at our disposal to make our energy grids more resilient, productive and cost-effective. Machine learning provides the means to do it.

Sustainable Innovations in Train Stations

The growing urgency around climate change and energy consumption has prompted a significant response from the rail industry over the past decade. It has responded with major initiatives around the globe. For example, in Germany, national rail company Deutsche Bahn has replaced tens of thousands of incandescent lights with LEDs. In the United Kingdom, rail managers have upgraded existing lines, like the HS1, to run entirely on renewable energy.

Another major change is that train stations themselves are becoming more eco-friendly and energy-efficient. These are some of the most significant changes transit authorities have made to reduce the environmental impact of train stations and cut down on emissions caused by rail travel and freight.

Green Innovations at a New Bay Area Rapid Transit Station

In 2017, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) officially opened a new station in Fremont, in California’s East Bay. The new Warm Springs/South Fremont Station was billed as BART’s most sustainable station yet, built with several eco-friendly features “baked in” to the station design.

Among other features, the new Fremont station includes solar panels on the station’s roof, charging stations for electric vehicles and biological water filtration systems called “bioswales.”

Bioswales are stormwater runoff management systems made out of native grasses, pebbles, shrubs, swan hill oak trees and similar landscaping elements. These systems pull in and filter rainwater that would typically run off roofs and paved surfaces, carrying pollutants with them to local waterways.

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At the new station, rainwater is captured in an underground surge basin after being filtered through the bioswale system. The water there can then be used in the station itself or slowly released in a way that won’t overwhelm local drainage areas.

The station isn’t the only BART initiative that aims to improve the eco-friendliness of Bay Area transit. In 2013, the system announced that it would use more than 1,300 tons of recycled waste tires to reduce vibration on an extension project near Fremont.

The project, which used shredded tires in place of gravel, is one recent example of how used car parts can be recycled and put to use.

Hong Kong Rail Station Features Garden Roof

Other, more recent projects have also used landscaping and natural design elements to improve sustainability.

For example, the new Hong Kong West Kowloon railway station, which opened in September 2018, features a curved “green roof” dotted with more than 700 trees.

Built to function as both a public space and transit hub, the station is also remarkably sustainable. The green roofscape, in addition to being aesthetically pleasing, also captures and filters rainwater, much like the Fremont station in California.

Deutsche Bahn’s “Green Station” Initiative

Germany has been a world leader in the adoption of green tech and transportation practices. One of the best examples of this has been the “Green Station” initiative led by Deutsche Bahn, the private railway company owned by the German federal government.

The project made headlines in the mid-2010s when the company produced the world’s first zero-carbon train station in Kerpen-Horrem, in western Germany.

This was an early example of how modern stations are compatible with eco-friendly design decisions. For example, the station in Kerpen-Horrem has an energy-efficient lighting system that uses a combination of LEDs, natural light and light-reflecting architecture to provide consistent illumination to the station with minimal energy consumption.

deutsche-bahn-energy-efficiencyEntlang eines Solarparks in Baiersdorf – ein Zug der Baureihe ET 442 unterwegs als S-Bahn

Since then, Deutsche Bahn has continued to make major strides in sustainable railway management and design, powering 33 of the company’s stations with entirely renewable energy and aiming for a companywide target of 100% carbon neutrality by 2050.

Reinventing Train Stations to Improve Sustainability

These new train stations show how transit providers are rethinking design to improve sustainability. Innovations like solar power arrays, electric charging stations and biofilters can all make a structure significantly more sustainable — and they’re becoming more common in station design.

Applications of Epoxy Resin in Clean Energy Sector

Epoxy resin is a kind of reactive prepolymer and polymer that contains epoxide groups. It is important to note that epoxy resin is different from other polyester resins in terms of curing. Unlike other resins, instead of using a catalyst as a curing agent, it is cured by an agent known as the hardener. It possesses many desirable properties such as high tensile strength, high adhesive strength, high corrosion resistance, and excellent moisture & chemical resistance. It is also resistant to fatigue, has a long shelf life, and has good electrical and insulating properties. The ability of epoxy resins to be used in various combinations and reinforcements makes it the foundation of a plethora of industries, including clean energy systems.

Applications of Epoxy Resins

Because of the versatile properties of epoxy resins, it is used widely in adhesives, potting, encapsulating electronics, and printed circuit boards. It is also used in the form of matrices for composites in the aerospace industries. Epoxy composite laminates are commonly used for repairing both composite as well as steel structures in marine applications.

Due to its high reactivity, epoxy resin is preferred in repairing boats that have been damaged by impact. Its low shrinking properties and ease of fabrication make it well suited for many tooling applications such as metal-shaping molds, vacuum-forming molds, jigs, patterns etc.

Use of Epoxy Resins in Clean Energy

A variety of industries have been actively trying to find a path that’s moving towards a society that puts less load on the the environment and also contributes towards reducing the carbon footprint. The accelerated use of epoxy resins in generating renewable energy has lead to a rise in its production demand. This is why the epoxy resin market is projected to witness a high demand and growth rate by 2022. Here are some of the sectors contributing to the production of clean energy and how they utilize epoxy resin for their functioning:

  • Solar Energy

The harnessing of solar energy dates back to 700 B.C, when people used a magnifying glass to focus the sun’s rays to produce fire. Today solar power is a vigorously developing energy source around the globe. It not only caters to the rising energy requirements but also the need to protect the environment from the exploitation of exhaustible energy resources.

A piece of average solar equipment endures intense environmental conditions such as scorching heat, UV radiations, bitter cold,  pouring rain, hail, storms, and turbulent winds. To withstand such conditions, the sealing and mounting application of epoxy resins increase the environmental tolerance of the solar equipment.

With their high mechanical strength, impressive dimensional stability and excellent adhesion properties, they are used to protect the solar panels from a wide range of temperatures. Epoxies are cheap, less labor-intensive and easy to apply.

  • Wind Energy

The global wind industry has quickly emerged as one of the largest sources of renewable energy around the world. The wind energy in the U.S. alone grew by 9% in 2017 and today is the largest source for generating clean energy in the country. With such a tremendous demand for wind power, the need for fabricating bigger and better wind turbine blades is also rising. The industry is in a dearth of long-lasting blades, that endure the harsh climatic conditions and wear tear and are able to collect more wind energy at a time.

Sealing and mounting application of epoxy resins increase the environmental tolerance of the solar equipment

Epoxy thermosets are used for making the blades more durable because of their high tensile strength and high creep resistance. Mixing of epoxy resins with various toughening agents and using them on the blades have shown positive results towards making the blades corrosion resistant and fatigue-proof.

  • Hydropower

Hydropower is an essential source of renewable and clean energy. As the hydropower industry is developing rapidly, the solution for protecting the hydropower concrete surfaces against low temperatures and lashing water flow has also been looked into.

As a solution to this issue, epoxy mortar, a mixture of epoxy resins, binder, solvent, mineral fillers, and some additives has proven to be the most effective material used for surface protection. Owing to the properties like non-permeability, adhesive strength, anti-erosive nature, and non-abrasiveness, epoxy mortar paste has been used as a repairing paste in the hydropower industry.

Over the last few decades, epoxy resins have contributed immensely in the maintenance and protection of clean energy sources, helping them to become more efficient and productive.

Final Thoughts

While many argue that factors like a relatively high cost when compared to petroleum-based resins and conventional cement-mortar alternatives has affected the epoxy resin market growth, the fact remains that epoxy resin never fails to deliver top-notch and unmatchable results in the areas of application.

5 Things You Need To Know To Reduce Your Electricity Bill

If you are a homeowner, you have probably thought of lowering your electricity bills every time you get your bill is logical. According to a recent study, the electricity bill is the second-highest cost most homeowners pay every month. That’s not surprising because thanks to modern science, we use electricity to run appliances for everything around the home nowadays.

Especially during this time when coronavirus has damaged the world economy, people are struggling to pay their bills. Meanwhile, lockdowns mean more time at home and higher electricity use than if you were in the office most of your day. You can reduce your electricity consumption if you use it smartly. As a result, your bill will reduce too. If you are looking to cut your electric bill, this article will give you some ideas on how you can do that.

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1. Get A Smarter Thermostat

In case you didn’t know, your heating and cooling system takes up almost forty-five percent of your total electricity consumption every month. So, if you can reduce at least some of your thermostats consumption, you will see a huge difference in your total bill.

Depending on your local weather, you may need to run your heater or cooler throughout the day. Though this is almost half of your total electricity consumption, that doesn’t mean you need to give up your comfort to reduce the bill. All you need to do is to make the job a bit easier for the thermostat. Control your urge to set the temperature too high or too low. For instance, put on a few extra layers of clothes to stay warm instead of setting the temperature too high on the thermostat.

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If you don’t want to take up the work to adjust the temperature from time to time continually, look into getting a programmable thermostat. With these thermostats, you can program the temperature for each time of the day. This way, you won’t need to change it frequently, but it will run in just the required temperature all the time.

2. Use Solar Power

As mentioned before, if you want to reduce your energy bills, that doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice your comfort. A great way to reduce your energy consumption is not to use it all the time. You don’t need to use electricity all the time when you are getting unlimited solar energy every day.

Solar energy is also known as green energy. Using solar energy is an emerging trend worldwide. Solar panels are installed on the roof, and these panels then convert sun rays into solar energy. It is a pretty simple process, but it can work wonders for you. The best part is they are not overly expensive to install – but the energy savings are significant.

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You might be thinking that the sun will provide energy only during day time. How are we going to run our utilities at night? The answer is pretty simple. You can get solar battery storage. These storage cells store the excess energy that you don’t need in the daytime and let you use it at night. This way, be it day or night, you can get everything done using solar energy.

3. Use Ceiling Fans

If you live in a warm climate, most of your electricity consumption is used by your air cooler. Although new technologies are coming every day, and you can get energy-efficient air conditioners now, but they still consume a lot of energy. While you can’t get rid of your air cooler completely, you can sometimes use a ceiling fan to create an airflow that cools the room down.

A ceiling fan is a great cost-efficient option. These fans pull out hot air and circulate cold air. It may not give you the same effect as an air cooler, but it will surely make your room a bit more comfortable as it circulates cold air. But the best thing is a ceiling fan takes up a fraction of the electricity that air cooler consumes. So, even if you don’t use it all the time, you can alternate between the ceiling fan and the cooler.

There are a few hacks that can help you stay comfortable even with the ceiling fan. For instance, try keeping the windows and doors which are facing the east covered. This will minimize the heat that comes from the sun.

4. Minimize the electricity your laundry takes

Washing your laundry with hot water takes up a lot of energy. The heater has to work a lot to provide this much hot water to your washing machine. Try using cold water to wash your clothes. You would be surprised how using cold water can reduce almost half of your laundry cost.

The key here is to use appliances. So if you are using your washing machine, try using it as little as possible – save the laundry loads and do them all at once during off-peak hours. So if you are using your washing machine to dry your clothes, you need to reconsider that. Drying clothes is a chore that can easily be done without using any energy. Line drying laundry is an easy way that takes no electricity. It may take longer, but it is free.

5. Reduce Phantom Drainage

If you haven’t heard of phantom drainage before, you are in for a bit of a ‘shocker’! It is also known as standby power. You may think that it is unnecessary to remove the plug when you are not using the appliances. They are turned off after all. But the truth is, your devices consume electricity even when they are not in use.

According to a study, appliances consume almost fifty percent of the total energy when they are actually not used. So, this energy is going nowhere, and you are the one paying for it. Not only is it a loss of our valuable energy and degrading our environment, but it is also a waste of money. So always make sure to remove the plug when you are not using an appliance.

To Sum Up

Reducing your electricity bill is not something that can be done in a day. It’s a day to day practice. Following these simple tips will lower your electricity bill remarkably. But these are not the only things you can do.

There are many small things you can do to get better results. For instance, try to install energy-efficient appliances. They take up a lot less energy than regular ones. You should also be mindful of wasting energy by keeping lights or coolers on when they are not required. Last, but not the least, use a budget calculator to keep a tab on where your money is going.

What is the True Cost of Sustainable Living in the US?

Protecting the environment is something most Americans are passionate about. In fact, a recent study found that over 65 percent of Americans would be willing to make drastic changes to protect the Earth. For years, people have searched for a way to live a more sustainable life.

While this can be beneficial, sustainable living is not cheap. Getting all of the different eco-friendly systems in place can be quite expensive. Properly preparing for your path to a sustainable life can help you avoid biting off more than you can chew financially. Plus, not only sustainable living is beneficial for the our planet earth but it can be considered as an investment that can give you something in return, Eco Peanut added.

Planting more trees and vegetation will go a long way in reducing heat in urban settings.

The following are some of the things you need to know about the true cost of green living.

A Sustainable Lifestyle Starts With Rethinking Your Power Supply

Most homeowners spend about 55 percent of their utility bills on electricity. Lowering these costs can be easy when using a website like Texaselectricityplans.com, but in order to make your power supply sustainable, you will have to make some changes.

Using solar power can be cost-effective over time, but initially, it will be a bit expensive. Getting a 24-volt solar power system with a backup generator will cost you around $40,000. As this technology is perfected and mass-produced, these initial costs will continue to decline.

Using the Power of Wind Turbines

Another popular power option for people who are trying to live a sustainable existence is wind turbines. While you can’t use this technology solely to power your home, they can be used as a backup to the solar system you have in place.

These systems are great to have, but they can be pricey. The typical wind turbine system will be around $11,000. If you are going to go completely solar-powered, you definitely need to consider including this backup to ensure your lights and appliances stay powered.

Revamping Your Water and Septic Solutions

Once you have your power problems figured out, finding a better way to get water and dispose of waste should be at the top of your list. If you are looking for a way to reduce your dependence on water treatment facilities for drinking water, then utilizing the power of a well is a good idea. Studies show that nearly 15 percent of Americans are using wells for their home drinking water.

If you are using your city’s sewer system to dispose of waste, you need to think about getting a standalone septic tank installed. Getting a well and a septic tank installed will cost around $13,000. There are greywater systems on the market, as well as waterless composting toilets. These systems take some getting used to but are a great eco-friendly waste disposal option.

Establishing an Independent Heating Source

Staying warm in the winter is something everyone views as a priority. Traditional HVAC systems use a lot of energy, which is why you need to establish an independent heating source if you want to live sustainably. One of the best ways to do this is by using wood-burning stoves or propane heaters. A propane tank splitter connects two propane appliances into one fuel tank, which helps in running two cookers in a single tank

Since wood is a renewable source of energy, you can use it as much as you want in your sustainable life. Buying a wood stove and lumber to keep it going will cost you around $4,000. This is a good deal when you figure out how much you pay in electricity costs during the winter and how much of a strain this puts on the environment.

Creating a Sustainable Lifestyle Takes Time

The journey to a sustainable life will not be easy. The amount of hard work and effort you put into converting your home into an eco-friendly paradise will be well worth it in the long run.

Why Solar Panels Make a Difference in Minnesota

Many would be surprised to know that, despite its cold, northern climate, Minnesota receives a substantial amount of natural solar energy. The amount received is even comparable to places near the equator such as Texas and Florida.

Solar Energy Minnesota users have tapped into this phenomenon more and more. They utilize natural sunlight to power their homes and protect the environment. With the help of monetary incentives, they even save money while doing it!

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By analyzing the environmental possibilities of the future and the fiscal incentives of the present, it is astoundingly clear why anyone would choose to invest in installing and maintaining solar panels. Due to its ever-growing importance and accessibility, this choice is only going to become more conventional.

An Eco-Conscious Undertaking

Excess greenhouse gases continue to deteriorate our ozone. Moreover, non-renewable resources risk becoming obsolete with each passing day. The question of how we must prepare ourselves is a recurring theme. We can make everyday decisions, like:

  • Recycling
  • Cutting down on plastic
  • Eating according to a vegan diet

Still, there are also larger steps, like using alternative energy sources. Solar energy is an exemplary renewable resource that is being encouraged for the state of Minnesota. This is because of its usefulness and the state’s considerably substantial accumulation of it.

It has been estimated that Minnesota can garner up to 38.5% of its electricity through solar power. This statistic can be jarring when considering facts like Minnesota used nuclear power for about 24% of its electricity in 2019 and is in the top 10% of ethanol producers in the country. Switching from these finite resources to a renewable one would positively impact both the state and the nation.

Financial Incentives

Just as everyone has a water bill and a cable bill, homeowners and property managers must also manage the responsibility of paying for power usage. The cost of electricity has a significant impact on how one goes about powering their home or business; however, numerous companies are now offering incentives to promote solar power usage.

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Many people’s decisions are a matter of price and affordability. By companies distributing incentives for the installation and maintenance of solar panels, plenty of individuals who never expected to partake in such a transformative endeavor can now do precisely that for federal tax credit and/or a utility rebate with up to 51% of the cost credited back. This applies to residential and commercial uses alike.

Personal Savings

Research from 2016 claims that over a decade-long period, solar panels will actually pay for themselves, and in a twenty-five-year span, they will start to make money back. Even dismissing the incentives to get started, solar energy could start making back money once it has found a foothold. This is a consistently discovered statistic in the studies of environmental sustainability—the more effort we put into incorporating renewable resources now, the less long-term climactic troubles we will have that result in displacement or worse.

Additionally, many of these companies that promote solar panel usage also assist with installation and upkeep—maintaining your panels in the frigid Minnesota winter is just one example of aid offered to those who commit to the process.

Bottom Line

Due to eco-conscious values, fiscal incentives, or impending climate change, solar power is taking a front seat in Minnesota’s most commonly used energy sources. Right now may be the best time to invest in solar panels, as those who do are likely to get money back for their contribution to a cleaner, safer world.

While the eco-conscious choices yesterday were a matter of money, it is evident that tomorrow they will be affordable for all.