Green Collar Careers Renewable
Renewable energy is to the 21st century what technology was to the
decade of the 90's. America is just beginning to usher in
an exciting new era of technology with renewable energy that will
persist through the century.
For tens of thousands of years, man
only knew of fire as a way to harness energy. In the 1940's man
harnessed the atom, however that hasn't proved to be the most cost
effective alternative to combustion. As we entered the new
millennium the side effects of centuries of consuming fossil fuels has
begun to leverage a migration to renewable fuels. As you can
imagine such a migration takes an enormous effort of both
technological and cultural action.
Demand for electricity will
continue to grow and at a rising rate. New homes, new buildings.
Appliances that Americans take for granted are fast finding their way
into the homes of billions of people; China, India, South
America, and Africa.
Transportation consumes far more energy then
all the electricity currently generated. With the demand for
petroleum rising and the supply reaching peak capacity we are on the
edge of a rapid rise for electric vehicles that no doubt will plug
into the same grid that powers our air conditioners.
mandates are in development to stimulate the growth of renewable
technologies by taxing fossil fuel emissions. Considering the
rise in demand and the forthcoming carbon taxes its a safe bet that
the cost of utility generated power is going to rise substantially and
likely over the next decade. Speaking of carbon taxes, much of
the revenue will be returned to supplement the cost of renewable fuel
technology and installation.
For example, the wind turbines that dot the landscape through parts
of Texas and California not only sell electricity; they sell
carbon credits too. While it costs more to generate a kWh of
power from a wind turbine then it costs from coal, the carbon offset
brings the two systems much closer together.
Solar Photo Voltaic (PV) electricity has been an option although
until recently it was just plain too expensive. Technical
developments have reduced the cost from $20 per Watt a decade ago to
about $10 per Watt today with some very promising technical
breakthroughs coming. To be competitive with coal, Solar PV
needs to be in the $2 per Watt range.
One of the promising Solar PV
technologies are Thin Film which use a transparent thin layer of rare
metals coating a sheet of glass or even plastic. These metals
are photo-reactive to generate electricity and have already broken the
$3 per Watt barrier. Moreover, some thin film PV materials are
being applied to plastics that can be applied to windows (the ultimate
solar film) and being flexible can conform to uneven shapes.
the 1980's there was an interest among Americans to adapt to
leveraging solar energy with architecture and solar water heating.
Tax incentives spawned growth in the technology however constructing a
cost effective system was elusive. After the tax incentives
expired sales and development of solar hot water systems declined.
Solar architecture also declined as the structure typically needed a
south facing wall that would fit on some of the smaller sized
Wind Turbines have seen some rapid development over the
last decade with some impressive developments for a mechanical system.
Being a mechanical system many of the traditional reliability and
noise problems have been solved although the generation predictability
still poses a greater risk then many are willing to risk.
energy is already the up and coming supply for the 21st century.
The Renewable Technology module will provide a technical understanding
of the various systems and their components. One of the most
important components is the inverter. Inverters take the raw
"unconditioned" power from the generation system and convert that to
be fully compatible with commercial AC power. Her again,
technology has lowered the significantly cost of these subsystems
while increasing reliability over the last decade.