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BKCHAP01-2011 - Part I Basics Renewable and advanced energy...

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1-1 Part I Basics Renewable and advanced energy systems primarily include non-conventional means of converting the naturally occurring streams of energy into useful energy. Some of these techniques (e.g., converting wind energy for grinding of grains) are thousands of years old, while some others (like superconducting magnetic energy storage, SMES) are still in the prototype stages. Many systems are commercially viable today (e.g., wind, solar, small scale hydro and batteries), while others offer promise for the future (e.g., wave and tidal power, and ocean thermal energy conversion). In the first chapter we briefly summarize the potential applications and benefits of the renewable and advanced energy systems discussed in this book. The common characteristic of all of these systems is that these have generally high capital and low operating costs. It is thus very important to judge these systems on the basis of the life-cycle cost of energy produced as discussed in chapter 2.
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1-2 Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION This book addresses renewable and advanced energy systems. Renewables include the energy sources that can replenish the resources fairly quickly. These are currents of energy occurring naturally in the environment. These include wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, tides, waves and biomass. The advanced energy systems are those which offer new and more efficient ways of using energy. These include battery, compressed air and superconducting magnetic energy storage, fuel cells and ocean thermal gradient. New and innovative ways are necessary to properly utilize these energy sources. Since electricity has established itself as the most convenient and versatile medium for energy usage, we shall study how these renewable energy sources and advanced systems can be used to produce electricity. This will require some creative application on the part of both the energy supplier and the user. But first, let us take a closer look at these technologies and see how they are performing. Solar Energy is the least site-specific among the renewables listed in this book. As sunshine is more or less everywhere, so solar power can be everywhere. Solar energy has two primary applications; thermal and photovoltaic. Solar thermal energy is used either for direct applications such as heating water and drying grain, or for indirect applications such as generating steam for producing electricity. Photovoltaic energy is used to produce dc (direct current) electricity directly from sunlight. A solar photovoltaic (PV) cell produces voltage and current when hit by light; the current intensity is a function of the intensity of light. A number of such cells are usually packaged in a series/parallel combination to form a module for easier handling. The necessary number of modules are then connected together to get the desired power output for a particular application. This is called a PV array, and a number of such arrays form a PV field. The dc power produced by solar arrays can be used for on-site applications. Many of the residential rooftop and remote applications use direct current PV power.
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