Renewable energy is any energy produced using methods that are considered to have little or no impact on the earth’s ability to renew the supply. Otherwise referred to as sustainable energy, renewable energy includes solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and wind turbines which are both considered as having the ability to produce energy without negatively affecting the environment. Harnessing of the sun and wind cannot exhaust their supply and running solar panel systems are literally maintenance free. Solar panel systems are becoming more and more popular as governments introduce cash incentives to households and businesses prepared to invest in renewable energy sources. The cash incentive provides a way of offsetting the initial high financial outlay for a solar panel system for the home or business.
At present, the majority of the modern world uses non-renewable or unsustainable fossil fuels to power almost every moving object that is required for the day to day running of lives and industry. Fossil fuels include oil, natural gas and coal. At the current rate of fossil fuel consumption it is estimated that certain non renewable energy sources could run out in is soon as 15 years time. In addition, the burning of coal is reported as a contributing factor to global warming due to the release of greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases are too thick to pass through the ozone layer so have a tendency to create a layer around the globe which reflects heat back to the earth. In turn, the polar ice caps melt, land mass is reduced due to submersion, wildlife lose natural habitat and prey, and sea levels could rise to dangerous heights, it is argued.
Petrol Due to Run Out
Oil is refined to produce fuel such as petrol (gasoline) and is can be used in different forms to fuel internal combustion engines such as those used to power automobiles or aircraft. It is also used as a solvent well known for its ability to dilute paints. Mogas is a term used to differentiate between motor gasoline and aviation gasoline or Avgas. It has been reported by several environmental organisations that petrol could face depletion at current oil usage levels as soon as 2025.
Assuming that no new sources of natural gas are found, it is argued that deposits can face total depletion in 50 years time. Natural gas deposits are difficult to transport due to their explosive nature so natural gas tends to be used close to its source. North Sea gas fields supply the UK quite effectively but many European countries have to use natural gas from Russia using hundreds of miles of underground piping. The future political state of other European countries, have the ability of hindering the supply of Russian natural gas to other countries and exacerbate a shortage in supply.
Coal Depletion is More Uncertain
Coal deposits are more readily available but are extremely difficult to mine with coal seams being as thin as just a few centimetres. Coal reserves are available all around the earth and it is estimated that there is enough coal deposits to last more than a thousand years. The issue is the potential effect of other fossil fuels depleting which could cause a heavier demand on coal than has ever been necessary and thus accelerate the exhausting of coal reserves considerably. Environmental activists are consistently advising that the use of as many renewable energy sources as possible can significantly reduce the depletion of fossil fuels and the negative effects of global warming.
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Grid parity is reached when the energy generated by renewable sources is of equal price or less, than national grid electricity. Reaching grid parity is a very important drive for all governments because it will make the cost of renewable energy an affordable option to non renewable sources. If there is no difference in price between renewable and non renewable energy or renewable energy becomes cheaper than energy produced by the national grid, then consumers will naturally choose renewable sources if the availability is sufficient. If Feed-in Tariffs do their job properly, there will eventually be enough producers of renewable energy to supply most of the country.
Feed in Tariffs in the UK
Reaching grid parity is actively pushed by introducing various incentivising schemes. A cleaner and greener future is encouraged by proactive governments via the introduction of Feed in Tariffs for Renewable Energy and the UK government launched a Feed in Tariff on the 1st of April 2010. The Feed in Tariff will pay households or businesses for every kilowatt of power produced using renewable energy sources like solar panels or wind turbines. Households and businesses meeting specific criteria are eligible for the cash incentive which is estimated to reach values over £1000 a year for the average home. Exact cash value can be much higher for larger solar panel installations or where more electricity is sold to the national grid. Payments are made whether or not the electricity is used by the household or exported to the grid. However, all electricity that is exported to the national grid will be paid at a higher rate than that which is used at the installation location.
Glastonbury Festival Leads the Way
Glastonbury Festival has recently fitted 1,116 photovoltaic solar panels to the roof of a cowshed at Worthy Farm in an installation that is reported to be the largest private solar panel system installation in the United Kingdom. It is estimated that Michael Eavis and the photovoltaic (PV) solar array at Worthy Farm will produce enough power to supply the equivalent of 40 UK homes each year. It is estimated that Worthy Farm could make £60,000 profit per year from the UK Feed in Tariff.
Solar power generally refers to electricity generated by photovoltaic (pv) solar panels that utilize materials displaying the photovoltaic effect. The photovoltaic effect occurs in semiconductors such as crystalline silicon or cadmium telluride which absorb solar energy from the sun and convert it into usable electricity of a certain voltage or current. The amount and type of electricity generated will depend upon the hours of sunlight available and whether the solar panel system or array are connected in series or parallel for voltage or current respectively.
Solar Panel Systems in Kenya
It is a surprise that more schools and streets are not lit with solar panel systems in Kenya and it is a shame that most solar systems are provided by charity organisations rather than the Kenyan government.Considering the impending issues associated with the urbanization of Kenya and the drain it will pose on government resources, the Kenyan government is playing with the lives of its citizens. It is reported that less than 20% of the Kenyan population is tied to the national grid and those who are connected are subjected to extortionately high electric bills. It is reported that the high energy bills in Kenya are partly due to the government’s corrupt self profiteering choice of the most expensive and dirty fuel to generate power.
Solar Panel System Cost in Kenya
The cost of a photovoltaic (pv) solar panel system is high in any part of the world and it is worse in Kenya due to import duties on the components required to build a solar panel array. Batteries for solar panel systems in Kenya can cost tens of thousands of Kenyan shillings alone and the number of batteries required increase as the power requirements increase. Solar panels themselves are very costly and transporting them is an added logistical nightmare. Inverters are also very expensive but required to convert the DC voltage generated by the photovoltaic solar panels into AC power.
Kenyans Abroad Can Help
The truth is that vast majority of Kenyans cannot even begin to consider using solar energy to power their homes completely. However, small and cheap solar panel systems in Kenya are available at low prices for the purposes of powering reading lights for students to study and many other uses such as the charging of laptops, mobile phones and MP3 players.The use of kerosene by students in rural areas to light lamps for studying has negative health implications as kerosene creates obnoxious fumes and the dim light causes users to strain their eyes. Also, kerosene is a dangerous substance for young children to be exposed to and many injuries have been sustained due to fires started by kerosen lamps. Those who have relatives in Kenya are encouraged to buy solar panel systems to send to their families abroad to cut their power bills and allow them to have a level of independence from the infamous Kenya Power. It has been found that quality cheap solar panel systems in the UK are available for as little as £20.