The rising cost of electricity, along with the unmistakable impact of global warming on the planet, have prompted more research into so-called clean power, from renewable sources that include solar, wind, and biomass technologies.
Producers of these types of technology also are quick to point out that if Americans yearn for less vulnerability to terrorism and political instability in other parts of the globe, greater energy self-sufficiency ought to be a national goal.
Numerous states also provide tax credits or rebates for renewable energy projects, and there's a federal renewable power manufacturing tax credit (PTC) of $19 per megawatt. It is set to expire at the end of 2008, but Congress is considering extending it through 2013.
In addition, the 2006 Energy Act offers businesses a tax reduction of up to $1.80 per square foot, either for new construction or renovation that saves at least 50 % over the comparable cost of heating, cooling, lighting, and/or water use of a comparable making without these technologies in place. The savings amount depends on which, and how many, resources you're conserving.
Solar Power:At the turn of this century, solar power-generating capacity worldwide was just over 3 million megawatts, but it's estimated that by 2020, it will surpass 5 million megawatts. Production of solar photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules truly began to take off within the 1990s and, by 2003, it was almost a $5 billion industry. In the exact same time period, nevertheless, Americans' dominance within the market as manufacturers of these techniques fell from 40 percent to 14 percent, losing ground to Japanese- and European-made systems.
The tiniest solar PV cells are used in calculators and watches, but when bigger cells are grouped together in modules of 40 or so, and multiple groups are mounted together (in configurations recognized as arrays), PV cells collect sunlight and convert it into sufficient amounts of electricity to power companies and residences. It takes 10 to 20 arrays to power a household, according to the American Solar Energy Society. It takes lots of cells to make power because only about 15 % from the sunlight that strikes the cell is utilized to generate electricity.
The industry is working tough to increase efficiency. In larger installations, the arrays collect and focus sunlight with mirrors to create a higher-intensity heat source, in a procedure known as Concentrating Solar Energy (CSP).
However, solar panels are created of silicon, and a silicon shortage in recent years has driven the price up substantially. Today, it can cost as much as 25 cents per kilowatt-hour to produce solar energy, more than double the price of any other fuel supply.
Solar energy is as adaptable as electricity generated any other way: It may be utilized for heating water, heating or cooling air, and so on. It can be incorporated into making design-an advantage more than wind turbines, for instance-and a solar program is very low maintenance. In producing the decision to "go solar," try to determine the life cycle or life expectancy of the program prior to you buy as nicely as the potential tax benefits.
Solar systems used to heat dishwashing water qualify for a federal energy-saving tax credit of 15 %, plus a 10 % business investment credit: a total tax write-off of 25 %.
Nevertheless, as your accountant will surely explain, you must first spend the cash to be able to write off the expense or receive the rebate. Learn more about solar power technology at the Web site from the American Solar Energy Society, ases.org.
Wind Energy:Wind energy is an additional renewable power source, which any farmer with a windmill has known for years. A single, old-fashioned windmill produces from 1 to 5 kilowatts, just sufficient to pump water for livestock or house use, but new technology allows the progressive farmer to retrofit an existing pump program to produce 300 to 500 kilowatts-enough to power the property's irrigation program. They're not known as "windmills" anymore, but wind towers and windfarms.
Wind currently offers about one % of the world's total power needs, but it is an industry having a bright future, growing 20 to 25 % per year. Germany and Spain are the nations with the most wind-generating capacity; the United States, Denmark, and India round out the top five, according to the Globe Wind Power Conference.
Total installed wind energy capacity within the United States is about 12,000 megawatts, with a lot more than 2400 megawatts installed in 2006 and numerous a lot more projects within the planning stages. Texas and California seem to compete each year for top honors in the American Wind Energy Association ratings, with the states of Iowa, Minnesota, and Washington also kicking wind production into high gear in recent years.
Some people complain that the giant towers and turbines are noisy and unattractive, particularly in large numbers, as nicely as hazardous to birds. Wind energy advocates are making technical breakthroughs to bring down expenses and make manufacturing more reliable, but natural gas-fired plants can produce electricity at 3 cents per kilowatt-hour or much less, while windfarms produce energy at about five cents per kilowatt-hour.
Studies say this cost might be reduced enough to compete with gas-fired plants if windfarm developers could obtain the exact same favorable financing terms as utility companies, or if the utilities would be willing to own the windfarms. Increasingly, the latter is the case. Utility companies see the benefits of good public relations for "going green" and adding renewable power to their portfolios.
This also helps mitigate an additional problem within the western United States: Some small windfarm owners are fighting with utility firms over whose responsibility it is to pay for and construct the additional power lines to connect their output to the grid. It may not be feasible for you to install a wind turbine outside your restaurant, but you can request that your utility provider's portfolio include wind resources.
You are able to understand more about the expenses and feasibility of wind power at awea.org, the Web website from the American Wind Energy Association. The organization has European (ewea.org) and Canadian (canwea.org) counterparts.
Biomass Technology:Biomass is the term for organic materials (from plants or animals) used to produce a fuel supply. It may produce electrical power or fuels to power vehicles. Biodiesel and ethanol (ethyl alcohol) are examples of biomass fuels. Biomass is also being utilized to create new-generation plastics which are recyclable, for items such as utensils and food containers. Restaurants' grease traps and trash cans are as good as gold to biomass power producers.
The Biogas Energy Project at University of California, Davis, created its very first attempt at large-scale use of restaurant waste to produce electrical power starting in 2006, and it is been a success. Waste collected from San Francisco area restaurants is pumped into an anaerobic digester, a specialized vat usually used in wastewater treatment plants, which combines the sludge with bacteria to break it down.
The procedure creates hydrogen and methane gas that can then be utilized as fuel or burned to produce electricity. Its creators say 1 ton of waste can energy 10 houses for a day, while keeping that ton of waste out from the landfill.
Geothermal Power:About one million American homes and businesses utilize geothermal heat pumps, to both heat indoor spaces in winter and cool them in summer, requiring about 20 % less electricity than they would without having heat pumps. Federal legislation in 2005 increased the financial perks for this type of system.
Franco Zinzi has been involved with online marketing for nearly 3 years and likes to write on various subjects. C