POWER SOLUTIONS: Renewable Energy Alternatives
Recent Western Cape Business News
THERE are many reasons why South Africa should turn to solar power to meet its energy needs. The Continent receives an average of 6kWh of solar energy per square meter every day. Solar technology can provide clean, good quality light, heaters cookers and communication with very little electricity - but with huge benefits and quality of life, says Roger Burrows, general manager of AC/DC Dynamics.
“The sun is the source of all energy and thus life in our solar system. It has fuelled progress for billions of years and will continue to do so for billions more but only recently has mankind been able to effectively harness that energy with solar panels. Even with the most efficient solar panels ever made only a tiny fraction of that energy is harnessed, but it is enough to power entire cities as well as some more ambitious projects. Of all the energy emitted from the sun, only a small percentage hits the earth, and an even smaller percentage gets through cloud cover and actually hits the ground, let alone a solar panel. As panels become more efficient, affordable and adaptable they begin to be feasible options for powering anything from vehicles to homes to huge manufacturing plants. This technology is rapidly developing and improving largely due to the increased cost of fossil fuels and the knowledge of what they do to the environment. There are absolutely no downsides to producing power through photovoltaic other than the initial cost of setting up the solar array. Luckily there have been plenty of new developments that are sure to lower the price of photovoltaic power and increase the amount of surfaces it can be applied to. One of the most promising developments has been the ability to print photovoltaic receptors onto a flexible base. This greatly increases the amount of area that can generate electricity and makes efficiency a non-issue. Since the film is flexible it does not crack or become brittle which extends it working life much longer. Installing becomes similar to laying carpet,” Burrows says.
The solar array generates DC voltage which is typically used to charge batteries which store the power for use day and night. A device called an inverter changes the DC battery power into usable 230VAC mains. The correct inverters produce a pure sine wave AC output which is suitable for all applications. And no annual cost increases for this electricity. Once installed, your electricity is for free, Burrows explains. This is not the future, this is right now. Solar panels are available from AC/DC Dynamics and its distributors nationwide.
He also points out that as energy becomes more expensive, this is only going to worsen with the limited supply of fossil fuels available. Hydro electric schemes are great but we do not have the water resources in the Western Cape to make this viable. Certain places in South Africa provide excellent opportunities for domestic wind turbines. Everyone has seen pictures of the huge wind farms overseas. But you can hardly put one in your back yard. Suitable for agricultural and domestic applications including game lodges, the installation of these wind turbines are just one way that people can reduce their dependence on external energy providers - saving money on utility bills, while also lowering their carbon footprint - so contributing (however minutely) to reducing global warming.
As regards home wind generator one has many choices to choose from One brand that has been gaining in popularity recently is the ACDC Ducati home wind generators.
“This generator has been designed to harness wind energy to the maximum possible extent. There are many different ways that this assembly produces wind energy from the wind. The first is the most common which is the standard way in most generators. It involves the simple lift and drag via the blades on the circumference of the rotor. The other way is through adhesion, which is when the air enters the gaps between the disks and adheres itself to the surface. This ultimately increases the rotation of the main rotor,” Burrows says.
The ACDC Ducati wind generator is small and compact, which means one can easily install it on top of your house, on your roof. A lot of research and development hours have gone into the design of this type of generator, in order to make it super efficient.
“We have been tracking wind/solar energy for quite some time and for what you would pay for a halfway decent wind generator in the past, to only take care of a quarter of your energy needs, the high initial outlay resulted in recovery on investment which took place over far too greater time. Technology and changed that.”
“Ducati in Italy have developed a new wind generator series that finally will fit the bill. It’s called the DTWIND wind turbine.”
Its efficient DC output is then stored in batteries so as to make the electricity available even when there is no wind. The batteries are then connected to an inverter, an electric device which creates pure sine wave AC mains at 230V. From this, one can drive any suitably rated electrical device or appliance.
Electric stoves, heaters and geysers are guzzlers of electricity and ideally, alternative fuel sources should be found for these appliances to avoid oversized and over priced solar and wind generator installations, Burrows says.
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